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5 Shocking ‘Health’ Foods I Would Never Touch

5 shocking "health" foods


By Lynda Griparic

Anyone who knows me, knows I enjoy eating well. I get extreme pleasure from preparing and eating good food for others and myself, especially when I know it will nourish, make us feel good and provide the energy needed to make the most of this fabulous life.

Even though I was exposed to a wide variety of foods growing up in a very European household, there are simply some foods I would not touch with a barge pole. I have selected five to discuss, leaving out some others you may already know about such as vegetable oils, margarine and commercially prepared salad dressings.

1. Skim/Low Fat Milk

health food skim milkQuite frankly I do not see the point of skim milk. The name suits this liquid perfectly. Skim is to remove, be superficial, skirt over. Enough said really. Skim milk is a food lacking many nutrients. Many people believe that by removing the fat we have a healthier substance which provides the same flavour. Sadly aside from the tasteless aspect and uninviting texture of skim milk, skim milk can actually contribute to weight gain and has minimal health benefits other than a false sense of belief that you are making a better choice for your health goals.

To start with, many skim milks are sweetened to help with palatability. Would you believe that low fat milk can have as much as 13g of sugar per cup?

Furthermore many essential vitamins found in whole milk such as Vitamin D, E and A are fat soluble and need fat to be transported and distributed throughout the body. Low fat milks therefore lack the vehicle our bodies and minds need to absorb and make use of these nutrients.

The healthy “good” fats such as those found in whole milk, are essential for the production of a hormone called Cholecystokinin (CCK). CCK is the fella responsible for the feeling of fullness. It makes sense then that low fat or skim milk can often leave you feeling unsatisfied, and inclined to reach for more food shortly after eating to fill the void. Good fats also slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream, reducing the amount that can be stored as fat.

Tip #1 If you drink milk, have unhomogenised full fat milk instead of skimmed.

 

2. Muesli Bars & Commercially Prepared Muesli

health food museliMuesli is often touted as an amazingly healthy and convenient meal and is marketed to the health conscious crowd. It is no surprise that people choose muesli and muesli bars for breakfast in preference to packaged cereals high in sugar or savoury meals such as egg and bacon.

It may shock you to know that most muesli bars and muesli’s readily available in supermarkets and health-food stores contain an alarmingly high amount of sugar, processed carbohydrates and often harmful vegetable oils! These can have detrimental affects on your overall health and weight loss goals.

If the idea of giving up on muesli is far too much to bear, consider making your own simple, yet delicious, sugar and grain free muesli that will not cause a huge blood sugar spike.

An example could be combining seeds (sunflower, pepitas, chia, sesame) with roughly chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, macadamias, , hazelnuts, almonds) and shredded unsweetened coconut. You could mix these with coconut oil, cinnamon powder and vanilla and bake in the oven until lightly toasted. Serve it up with coconut milk, full cream cow or goat milk or homemade almond milk.

Also the 180 protein bars are a great natural alternative to your muesli bars if you are looking for a convenient snack.

Tip #2 If you are going to eat muesli, make your own.

 

3. Sports Drinks

health food sports drinksCommercially prepared sports drinks otherwise known as “energy drinks” are often consumed by people who want to obtain an energy lift, improve their sports performance or those who believe that this is a better alternative to soft drinks.

Unfortunately most sports drinks are far from healthy, in fact most have no real health benefit at all and can negatively effect your health. They are high in sugar and contain many chemicals such as preservatives, dyes and a well known brand contains brominated vegetable oil, a flavour and colour enhancer. Vegetable Oils….need I say more?

If its vitamins, minerals and energy that you are after you are better off consuming real, whole foods, beverages and supplements such as healthy fats, quality, clean protein, antioxidant rich fruit (berries), fibrous vegetables, nuts, seeds, water, herbal teas and yes even a cup of good quality coffee without the sugar and skim milk thanks.

Tip #3 Try making your own sports drink for recovery; a pinch of himalayan rock salt & a squeezed lemon with water.

 

4. Fruit Juices

health food fruit juicesBecause its fruit it’s a healthy beverage right? This is a BIG misconception. If you thought that fruit juice was a healthy alternative to sugar sweetened drinks, you would be wrong. Fruit juice actually contains a similar amount of sugar as a sugar-sweetened beverage. Not to mention a heavy “cocktail” of fruit flavoured chemicals.

To put it in perspective, fruit juice can contain more sugar than a can of coca cola. Up to 12 tsp per glass. Its an ugly thought isn’t it and not a habit we want to get into if optimal health and weight control is your goal.

I would even err on the side of caution with those beverages labelled 100% fruit juice. Whilst they may contain “only” fruit they are without the fibre found when we eat the real thing. In essence you are getting a big dose of fruit sugar (fructose), which messes with your blood sugar levels and leaves you feeling ungrounded, hungry and anxious. Not to mention fruit juice does nothing for your waist line because as we know excessive sugar is converted into fat, compounded also by the fact that fruit juice will leave you feeling hungry and thus more inclined to unnecessarily reach for more food.

Sadly most manufacturers add additional sugar to these already naturally sweet beverages. The danger here aside from the blood sugar spike is that we develop a taste for sweet foods and our cravings and consumption grows. At the end of the day when all we want for ourselves is great health and happiness we need to be aware of the excessive often “hidden” sugars found in our food and beverages.

You are better off eating a piece of fresh fruit as one glass of fruit juice contains much more sugar than the whole fruit and you are loosing much of the fibre which helps to keep the digestive and elimination systems working well. The fibre found in a piece of fruit such as an apple slows down the absorption and protects us from the effects of fruit sugar. Strip away the fibre and cram multiple fruits into a bottle and what you get is a sugary drink which absorbs quickly and leaves you feeling hungry. Do you really need more convincing?

Tip #4 Eat a piece of fruit instead, or make your own 80% veggie juice with 20% fruit.

 

5. Weight Loss Shakes & Poor Quality Protein Powders

health food weightloss shakesWhilst my first preference would be to eat real, whole food, I do believe that there are many instances that warrant supplementation with a protein based powder. Such as athletic performance, illness, convalescence (recovery from ill health) and dietary deficiencies where consumption of whole food is affected.

There are many commercial protein powders and weight loss shakes on the market containing concerning amounts of heavy metal toxins such as cadmium, lead, mercury and arsenic. In addition to this most are artificially sweetened and treated with heat and acid which again affects the quality and renders them useless to your health.

Needless to say that I avoid most commercially prepared powders like the plague. For myself and for patients. Having said that good quality, highly nutritious protein based powders exist you just need to do some simple research (I recommend 180 Natural Protein to my clients).

I would start with establishing where the source of whey is from and how it’s processed.You might also want to consider how many ingredients it contains. Do you recognise any of these? Is it artificially sweetened? Does it contain fibre? An important question if you are using it to replace a meal. We want to make sure the bowels are happy and kept regular.

In a nutshell, I lean toward protein based powders that contain grass fed whey, that is low allergy (e.g without gluten) and one that has had minimal processing. Of course there are many who can not tolerate dairy at all. In this instance I would use non whey based protein powders such as pea protein, using the same questions above for your detective work.

In essence, protein powders can be worthy of shelf space in your cupboards provided you choose good quality, minimally processed varieties like 180nutrition protein powder. Simply avoid the commercially prepared varieties that will do nothing to positively impact your health.

Tip #5 Choose high quality protein powders with ingredients you recognise with minimal processing.

 

Conclusion

As you can see all of my top five fall into the processed, distant relative to whole food category. Put simply, if you suspect a “health-food” might not be that healthy, keep it simple and opt for food close to its natural form and a minimal ingredient list with items you recognise.

Thats what the body thrives on and deserves so please don’t throw complex stuff into it that it may not know what to do with.

What would your top 5 be? Do you agree? Love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Lynda Griparic NaturopathLynda is a fully qualified Naturopath and Nutritionist with over 13 years of experience in the health industry.

Lynda specialises in detoxification and weight loss. She has extensive experience in running healthy, effective and sustainable weight loss programs and has expertise in investigating and treating the underlying causes of weight gain and metabolic problems.

If you would like to book a consultation with Lynda, CLICK HERE

Can I eat honey and agave syrup if I am trying to lose body fat?

Is honey healthy

By Guy Lawrence

‘For all but the last few hundred years (a heartbeat on the genetic evolution time scale), really sweet foods have been difficult to find.’ – David Gillespie

Sugar… It’s a delicate topic. Unless you’ve been living in a cave lately, you will know that sugar has been copping a lot of flack from the media over recent times (and rightly so I feel). But even with all this media attention, it still washes over many people’s heads and gets thrown into the all too hard basket, with my mate included.

I’ve been guiding my mate now for quite some time with the misconceptions of weight loss and his health kick. He felt that eating fruit salad would help his weight loss plan, counting calories and drinking diet sodas was a healthy choice, following the food pyramid was  beneficial and hours and hours of running a week was going to improve his health. Then I challenged him and his way of thinking and asked him to reconsider his approach, and thankfully he has so far.

We caught up for a cuppa and a chat recently, and as he puts a great big spoonful of honey in his tea, he looks at me and says “this is ok isn’t it? I mean, it’s natural right?”

He then tells me he’s stirring lots of agave syrup into his porridge in the morning too. O’ dear…

In my head I’m thinking ‘mate, if it’s sweet it usually means there’s sugar in there, natural or not.’

But I did not want to deflate his efforts as he was making great progress overall. His intentions where honorable, but he was a little off the mark.

I felt it was now time to delve into a little more about sugar… I just hoped he was ready to hear what I had to say…

Some technical stuff on sugar

SugarYou could write a book on this stuff, in fact someone has and it is called Sweet Poison by David Gillespie (a must read if you care about your health). So bear with me here as I try and condense masses of information into a paragraph in this blog post.

From my experience, when you think of sugar, most people will think of table sugar. So white, brown, caster, or raw sugar is pretty much all the same.

Now table sugars technical name is ‘sucrose’. Sucrose is actually made up of two simple sugars – glucose and fructose – at molecular level. When you eat sucrose, your body actually digests it as half fructose and half glucose. Make sense?

To recap:

  • All types of table sugar = Sucrose
  • Sucrose = 50% Glucose + 50% Fructose

So if you ate 10g of table sugar (sucrose), your body is actually seeing and digesting 5g of glucose and 5g of fructose.

To throw a little more into the mix, there are only three important simple sugars: glucose, fructose and galactose. All sugars you are likely to come across in food are going to be some form or combination of these three.

For instance, fruit will contain sucrose, fructose and glucose. But our body see’s this simply as fructose and glucose because we now know sucrose is a combination of both.

Another good example is milk, which contains the sugar lactose. Lactose is a combination of glucose and galactose.

These three sugars make up the majority of food we call carbohydrates along with fibre (cellulose). Fibre we don’t use for energy.

Now contrary to popular belief, sugar is quit rare in nature. It’s just that us humans have made it insidious and put it in all our food and beverage products. A lot of manufactured foods are basically bland as bat shit so they load them up with sugar so they taste all sweet and yummy.

Now we certainly know sugar impacts our health from stressing the body by effecting blood sugar levels and increasing insulin production. These things alone effect longevity of life (I’ve covered all these things on many posts with more to come). But what seems to slip under the radar a little is fructose.

Fructose has minimal effects on impacting insulin and blood sugar, hence it’s low GI. The problem is that fructose is much more damaging than glucose or galactose. It’s actually 20-30 times more glycating (damaging) than glucose. Why?

In wikipedias own words:

“The medical profession thinks fructose is better for diabetics than sugar,” says Meira Field, PhD, a research chemist at United States Department of Agriculture, “but every cell in the body can metabolize glucose. However, all fructose must be metabolized in the liver. The livers of the rats on the high-fructose diet looked like the livers of alcoholics, plugged with fat and cirrhotic.”[59] While a few other tissues (e.g., sperm cells[60] and some intestinal cells) do use fructose directly, fructose is almost entirely metabolized in the liver.[59]

“When fructose reaches the liver,” says Dr. William J. Whelan, a biochemist at the University of Miami School of Medicine, “the liver goes bananas and stops everything else to metabolize the fructose.” - Wikipedia

In other words, when we eat glucose we have controlling mechanisms. We can use the glucose for energy and/or produce insulin to convert the glucose into fat and save it as stored energy. Fructose on the other hand bypasses the controlling mechanisms and is directly converted to fatty acids. So all the fructose we eat is converted to fat.

apple juiceNow if you consider an apple is approximately 8% fructose (2 teaspoons), throw in the fibre, skin, flesh and all the other nutrients and an apple a day isn’t going to knock you sideways… But the moment you start to process these things (like 10 apples to make a juice) and it’s a different story!

Fructose is even found as one of the main ingredients in many health/weight loss products. It’s used as a cheap source of carbohydrate. The mind boggles…

If companies started listing their ingredients transparently with pictures next to them like we do here, I think things would be a little different.

And to top it off some bright spark came up with high fructose corn syrup – HFCS – (it’s in lots of processed foods), which is extremely damaging. Think of it as an industrial strength sweetener. I read recently that this is the number one source of dietary calories in the USA, amazing!

Do you have these foods in your daily diet?

These are some of the foods sweetened with HFCS: Sodas, cookies, soups, salad dressing, sauces, bread, peanut butter, mustard… To name but a few but you get the picture. Read the labels first. Fortunately HFCS doesn’t get used as much here in Australia as it does in the US, but it wouldn’t surprise me if that changes in time. It’s cheap to produce, transport and store. As always just follow the money.

As mentioned by the Wikipedia quote above, there have been numerous studies undertaken where animals (usually rats) have been fed a high-fructose diet, and they developed livers of an ageing seasoned alcoholic.

Then if you look at the rest of your food and how they are affecting your insulin and blood sugar levels, you could be digging an early grave with your fork. A good example of unsuspecting food is breakfast cereal. Did you know that there are breakfast cereals on the market that effect your blood sugar levels more than glucose? Incredible.

Personally, if I was a diabetic or suffering high cholesterol/ high blood pressure etc. The first things I would cut out of my diet are fructose and breakfast cereal. But that’s just me…

honey

Agave syrup & honey

So back to honey in my mate’s cup of tea and agave syrup in his porridge. We now know if you want to have a fatty liver like a raging alcoholic and get fat, consuming lots of fructose daily will greaten your cause. If you don’t want that, cutting back on your fructose intake is a smart move over the long term.

You know what’s coming next right? Honey is on average 38% fructose. Agave syrup is anywhere from 70% fructose and higher according to the agave nectar chemical profiles posted on agave nectar websites.

Agave is touted as this wonderful natural sweetener. The only thing wonderful about it is the marketing. Agave nectar and high-fructose corn syrup are made the same way, using a highly chemical process with genetically modified enzymes.

Quit the sweet stuff

Should my mate quit the honey and agave syrup? It’s entirely up to him. But I would suggest to taking a close look at his diet and seeing how much processed foods, breakfast cereals, processed fruits, dried fruits etc make up his daily diet. I try and keep my fructose intake to a minimum. I’ll get it through a little bit of fruit each day. Personally I don’t sweeten things, as I don’t have a sweet tooth as I don’t have much sugar in my diet.

On a side note: I truly enjoy writing these posts, hence our frequent blog posts. At the end of the day though, these are just my thought’s and feelings around a topic I’m passionate about. I encourage everyone to do their own research and check out the facts for themselves.

If you did enjoy the post and got something from it or have something to share on the topic, I would love to hear your thought’s in the comments section below. If you feel others would benefit from this then it would be great if you could share it using one of the icons below (Facebook etc). Cheers, Guy…

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