Cooking your own food can feel incredibly virtuous. After all, if you’ve looked up a recipe, painstakingly prepared all your ingredients and taken the time to put it all together, you could be forgiven for feeling slightly smug. Unfortunately, making the meal is only half the battle.
It turns out that a whole host of the ingredients that we use every day in the kitchen are just as bad as what we might order from a restaurant. Though common, many of us are under the mistaken impression that these ingredients are actually a healthy alternative to other options. We couldn’t be more wrong. Here are seven ingredients we all eat every day that are absolutely terrible for us.
1. Fat-free foods
If you’re looking to be more health conscious, it can be easy to get suckered in by the promise of a fat free ingredient. As you might expect, the offer is almost always too good to be true. Many “fat-free” products, such as yoghurt or salad dressing, include excessive amounts of added sugar to make up for the lost flavour, leading to a product that’s just as bad, if not worse, than the real thing.
2. Canned Fruit
It’s easy to think that anything with fruit in the title is going to be good for you. Though it can seem like a shortcut to vitamins, canned fruit is actually crammed full of sugar in order to preserve it. In most cases, the peeled fruit is also devoid of the nutrients that make fruit so beneficial in the first places, making cans a sugary waste of calories.
3. Fruit Juice
Similarly to canned fruit, cartons of juice are hiding a whole lot more sugar than you might expect. According to “Eat This, Not That”, what makes juice so bad is that it contains “100 percent fruit without the blood sugar-stabilising fibre”. In addition, many brands will add sugar to enhance the product’s flavour, making juice one of the sugariest things in the fridge.
4. Fake Butter
Our relationship with butter is long and complicated. Despite the fact that we’ve been cooking with it for hundreds of years, the 20th century saw many people shun it in favour of artificial alternatives. We’re only just beginning to realise what a bad idea this might have been. According to Isabel Smith, founder of Isabel Smith Nutrition, “Some margarine tubs contain artery-clogging saturated fats and are made with processed oils that may be pro-inflammatory.”
5. Canned Veg
The real reason canned veg could be a bad idea actually has nothing to do with the veg itself. Bisphenol A, also known as BPA, is a synthetic chemical found in the coating of some vegetable cans. According to webMD, the FDA has long been concerned over the effects that the chemical could have on the brain and heart, as well as its status as a possible carcinogen. Though many brands have stopped using BPA, there are still some out there who continue to work with it.
6. Vegetable Oil
In the 1990s, vegetable, soybean and corn oil saw a sharp rise in popularity, as animal fats were accused of harbouring harmful chemicals and fats. Though they have remained the first choice for many, vegetable oils are far worse than we first thought. Not only are they highly processed, but they also contain high levels of polyunsaturated fats, which can lead to health complications.
7. Food Colouring
Food dyes are a popular ingredient, especially in baking, where they are regularly used make sweet treats look much more enticing than they actually are. Unfortunately, a ready-made dash of colour comes at a cost. According to Jay Cardiello, a diet expert and celebrity personal trainer, “Artificial food dyes...are a cause for concern and may have serious side effects...Red 40, for example, may contain cancer-causing contaminants.”
Of course, the majority of these ingredients aren’t going to pose a serious health threat any time soon. As long as we’re eating everything in moderation, there should be relatively little damage done. It’s just worth bearing in mind where nastiness might be lurking.