There is a lot the junk food industry doesn’t want you to know about what’s really inside their products! While a lot of food manufacturers accept that their products—like cookies, cakes, baked goods, chips, candies, and chocolates—are going to automatically be categorized as “junk food”, they also try to use clever marketing and labels to conceal the fact that some of the food they sell as wholesome is actually junk. Here are some of the secrets you need to know:
Low Fat is Usually High Sugar
When you see a product that is labeled “low fat”, you are probably thinking that it’s healthier because of its lower fat content. Not so! The kinds of saturated fat you’d find in most low fat products—like yoghurt, cheese, milk, and other dairy products—isn’t bad for you, but removing it from the foods leads to a higher lactose (sugar) content. The removal of fat affects the flavor of the food, so manufacturers use more sugar and flavorings to cover up the altered taste. The result: low fat food is actually a lot worse for your health than regular-fat food.
“Diet” Products are Terrible
Do you have any idea what makes those “diet” products diet-friendly? Manufacturers use the term “diet” to label anything that has less sugar (usually either sucralose or high fructose corn syrup). While it’s good to find foods without sugar, these diet foods simply replace the regular sugar with artificial sweeteners like aspartame. These sweeteners can have similar effects on your body as regular sugar, but with the added side effect of causing low-grade inflammation and raising your risk of cancer. For the average person, you’re better off drinking a can of regular, full-sugar soda than one that contains “diet” sweeteners. Granted, the best choice is to eliminate both of these products completely!
Hydrogenated and Trans Fats are the Enemy
When you think of food that is low in fat, you usually think of fruits, veggies, grains, and some proteins. A lot of junk food will contain a label that claims it is “trans fat-free”, which is a good thing, provided it’s actually free of trans fats. You see, hydrogenated oils are just another form of the terrible trans fats that can clog your arteries and lead to higher heart attack rates. Chips, cookies, crackers, and anything that is fried or deep fried will usually have a high trans fat and hydrogenated oil content, so they’re best avoided.
“Whole Grain” Products May Not Be Whole
When you see a loaf of bread that claims it’s “made with whole wheat” or “whole wheat bread”, most of the time what you’re really eating is white flour that has had some of the wheat bran added back into it. It’s still fully refined flour, so you’re not getting the proper nutrition that is derived from proper brown flour that has not been refined. The best solution is to look for products that are 100% whole grain. These are the only ones that have not gone through the refining process, meaning they’re as close to their natural state as possible.
Fruit-Flavored Products Rarely Contain Fruit
You’ll often find fruit gummy, fruit juice, and other fruit-flavored products that have a label proclaiming, “Now with more real fruit” or something similar. The truth is that these products almost never have a significant quantity of actual fruit. They’re usually made with 99% sugar and fruit flavoring, with perhaps a few drops of fruit juice so they can include that claim on their label. If it’s not actual raw fruit, there’s a good chance it’s made with artificial fruit flavors and sugars.