The Surprising Processed Foods You Might Want To Ditch

Sugar, fat, weird chemicals no one can pronounce – we all know there are certain foods we should avoid or eat in moderation. But what about nuts, ham, yoghurt and even oat milk? Here, four nutritionists share the secretly processed foods they want you to drop from your diet.
The Surprising Processed Foods You Might Want To Ditch

Nutritional expert at The Health Zoc, Holly Zoccolan, says...

Roasted & Salted Nuts 

“Most people are unlikely to be aware that these nuts contain highly inflammatory vegetable oils, such as sunflower oil or rapeseed oil. In fact, it’s often believed that snacking on nuts like these is as healthy as a ‘natural’ snack, but oils such as sunflower and rapeseed should be avoided at all costs. Look for plain, natural nuts instead – M&S do a natural roasted nut selection without adding any vegetable oils.”

Multigrain Bread 

“Multigrain bread actually contains high levels of sugar, salt, gums and refined vegetable oils – just because the bread is brown and contains some seeds doesn’t make it good for you. In fact, the high sugar content leads to blood sugar spikes which cause weight problems and mood swings. The vegetable oil content is also alarming – vegetable oils such as sunflower oil and rapeseed oil are highly inflammatory and should be avoided. Pure organic sourdough or rye bread are great alternatives – try the brand Biona, which I really rate.”

Honey Roast Ham

“People see this product in the supermarket and assume it’s just, simply, roasted ham with honey. What they don’t realise is that it contains additives, preservatives and added sugar, as well as honey. Because it’s meat, it’s therefore seen as pure protein, but the stabilisers and preservatives can actually increase inflammation and lead to further food cravings, too. Instead, buy a plain joint of ham from your butcher’s and roast it at home yourself.”

Naturopathic nutritional expert & founder of Eat, Nourish and Glow Jessica Shand, says...

Smoothies

“Smoothies are one of my favourite ways to pack in lots of nutrients, plant protein and healthy fats to help maintain a steady blood sugar which is essential for hormone balance. But be careful when it comes to buying pre-made smoothies as these tend to laden with inflammatory ingredients such as sugar and preservatives to increase the shelf life and to enhance taste. Again, pretty packaging and extravagant marketing campaigns can easily sway people into believing that these are healthy options, but it’s always best to make your own at home so you know exactly what you’re putting in them. My favourite balanced smoothie recipe includes berries, nut butter, walnuts, Brazil nuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds and unsweetened plant-based milk. I always add a scoop of Form Nutrition vegan protein powder for extra protein.”

‘Lighter’ Ready Meals 

“Lots of people are misled into buying ‘lighter’ options of ready meals because of the low-calorie count highlighted on the packaging. But it’s important to remember not all calories are created equal. For example, a calorie from a salmon and avocado quinoa bowl, which is high in healthy fats and protein, cannot be compared to a calorie from a lasagne ready meal. Ready meals are laden with salt and are high in saturated fats, as well as being an expensive convenience food.  It’s best to plan ahead when possible and batch cook homemade meals when you have time and freeze portions so they’re ready to be defrosted and eaten when you need them, rather than being tempted by ready meals. They’re also really damaging to the environment because of all the single-use plastic packaging.”

Vegan ‘Meat’ Alternatives 

“Being vegan doesn’t automatically mean you’re healthier, which is something that gets forgotten when it comes to pre-packaged vegan meat alternatives. Check the ingredients – you’ll likely see a whole host of highly processed ingredients you can’t pronounce and have never heard of, including additives and synthetic ingredients used to create the look and flavour of meat. Instead, try focusing on eating fresh high fibre whole foods and add tasty herbs and spices to keep your gut and tastebuds happy, without the unnecessary hormone disrupters.”

Founder of matcha company, Casa Cura and certified health coach, Nadia Rawjee, says…

Vitamin Water

“Vitamin waters seem like they are just water with added vitamins, when in truth they’re filled with natural flavours and other preservatives. Most people believe it’s good for them because they know drinking water is good for them, as is having vitamins. But vitamin waters can leave you feeling dehydrated because they’re high in liquid sugar. They can fool you into believe you’re getting the vitamins you need, when in fact your body is better able to absorb vitamins from vegetables and fruits. I prefer Happy Dose, which is water that’s infused with nutrients, such as Ashwagandha, which is known to make you happier.”

Protein Bars

“They don’t just have protein in them – they often have preservatives such as soy, added sugars and natural flavours. Most people think they’re good for them because protein is great for our bodies and helps to keep us full, but they’re filled with preservatives such as soy which, when consumed in high amounts, can deregulate women’s hormones and may cause acne. They also often have ‘natural flavours’ in them which are derivates of real food and are hard for our body to process. A healthier alternative would be to have a high protein, high fibre snack such as an apple with almond butter or tuna salad with crackers. If you’re looking for a pre-made high protein snack on-the-go, try Oatsu overnight oats.”

Dried Mango 

“It’s not just mangoes that have been dried. Typically, sugar and preservatives are added to them. People may think the packaged mangoes are pieces of fruit just dried but, most of the time, when they come packaged they have added ingredients. Dried mango can cause a spike in insulin due to its high content of natural sugars and low water and fibre content after being dried. With the added sugar and additives, dried mangoes are an easy way to go into a food coma. A healthier alternative would be to eat Bear Yoyo fruit snacks which are all natural with no added sugars. 

Nutritional therapist and co-founder of KOJO, Alina Gromova-Jones, says…

Store-Bought Yoghurt

“Yoghurt has fantastic gut-boosting properties and can be a great source of protein, but mainstream yoghurt products can be mistaken as being healthy when actually they’re full of added sugar – hello upset stomach and unbalanced blood sugar. Beyond our daily intake, excess sugar can cause bloating and raise our blood sugar levels, resulting in excess sebum, greasy hair and oily skin. Try dedicating some extra time in the supermarket to read the label and check for unwanted ingredients. Nush Foods’ Almond Yoghurt contains no added sugar, or artificial flavours, sweeteners or thickeners. Then, add some raspberries, dried mulberries or peanut butter for flavour and natural sweetness.”

Plant-Based Milks

“Plant-based milks can seem like a better option over cow’s milk, but they’re only better if they’re not loaded with oil, salt, sugar, thickeners; and they can also mainly consist of water. Putting it plainly, your plant-based milk should consist of pressed almonds/rice/oats/coconuts with water. A lot of ‘barista’ style plant-based milks contain sunflower oil but, if these oils aren’t stored properly, they can oxidise and cause harm to our cells. If you are removing dairy from your diet, please consult a doctor or nutritional therapist to ensure you are consuming enough calcium and protein from other sources. Any of the Plenish M*lks are great – my favourite is the Cashew M*lk – and to sweeten it I add a teaspoon of high-quality maple syrup, which has a lower glycaemic index than sugar.”

Granola

“The granola that is sold now is not the same product as it was originally. Most often it’s packed with corn syrup, honey, sugar and other sugar substitutes. Additionally, refined grains that lack their original nutritious status are often present due to over processing. Those golden clusters on the tv advert can seem very appetising but can make your blood sugar spike and crash, and cause that very familiar desperation for an earlier lunch. Of course, KOJO’s protein granola is my favourite – it’s gluten-free, crunchy, nutty and contains buckwheat and quinoa, and is also high in B vitamins and protein. Alara’s Golden Crisp granola is another favourite – the sweetness comes from dried apricots and coconut blossom, and it’s gluten-free too.
 
For more information visit TheHealthZoc.com, CasaCuraOfficial.com and KOJO.co.uk. Follow @EatNourishAndGlow on Instagram.
 
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