The ‘health foods’ you shouldn’t waste your money on

Ditch energy drinks for plain water to avoid added sugar.

Ditch energy drinks for plain water to avoid added sugar. Photo: Getty

Consumers are increasingly demanding ‘good-for-you’ products and supermarkets are responding, stocking their shelves with products promoting health and wellness benefits.

Unfortunately clever advertising and packaging do not tell the whole nutritional story, with many consumers today wasting their money on so-called health foods.

The New Daily asked a doctor, nutritionist, dietitian and fitness guru what not to waste our dough on.

Sam Wood, one of Australia’s leading personal trainers, and creator of the training and nutrition program, 28, says it’s too easy to get caught up in fads due to clever marketing or influential friends and family who tell you how their lives has changed since making a ‘health food’ discovery.

“There are so many products that promise they’ll improve your health but do little more than take your money or supply hidden calories you do not need,” Mr Wood says.

When it comes to staying hydrated, “ditch the energy drinks and vitamin waters and head for the tap. Nothing beats good old H20″, he says.

“Real food is more often easier, more affordable and more accessible than those fancy ‘health’ products saturating your Instagram feeds.

“Real food comes out of the ground, off a tree or from an animal. Oh, and if your almonds aren’t activated — it’s okay. You’ll survive!” he says.

Speaking of almonds, hormone expert and acupuncturist Nat Kringoudis believes that “non-Australian” nuts are not worth our money.

“They are horridly sprayed with chemicals which do crazy things to our hormones and are best avoided.

“They shouldn’t be allowed into the country as far as I’m concerned. Besides we should always eat locally,” Ms Kringoudis says.

“Because nuts are super nutritious and one of the easiest ways we can increase good fats and protein — the building blocks of our hormones— I made Yo’Nuts which are all organic and Australian which means no ‘bombing’ or spraying.”

Meanwhile, Dr Peter Bruckner, professor of sports medicine at La Trobe University and convenor of SugarByHalf (a not-for-profit body encouraging people to reduce added sugar) warns against hidden sugar.

“Many so-called ‘healthy foods’ are full of hidden sugar. Yoghurt and muesli bars are typical examples,” Dr Bruckner says.

“The majority of yoghurts sold are fruit yoghurts which have large amounts of sugar. A much better option is a full fat Greek yoghurt with some fresh or frozen berries.”

health foods to avoid

Gippsland Dairy’s Raspberry and Coconut Twist Yoghurt was highlighted in a recent Choice survey of added sugars. Photo: Supplied

His advice is to read the food label.

“Make sure the amount of sugar is no more than 4 or 5 grams per 100 grams. This is likely to be natural sugar. Any more than that is added sugar,” he says.

Kylie Andrew, sports dietitian from the Victorian Institute of Sport, laughs when asked which health food is not worth our money.

“Oh, which one do I choose — there’s so many!”

“Let’s start with almond milk. While it certainly ticks the lactose-free box for those intolerant, it lacks key nutrients like protein and calcium found in regular milk.

“Next, gluten-free products. Unless you are coeliac or gluten-intolerant, there are no health benefits avoiding gluten.

“While raw cakes offer no additional nutrients or health benefits to regular cake, in fact they’re often loaded with high fat and high sugar alternatives to the traditional butter and sugar.”

Ms Andrews suggests eating well most of the time and instead enjoying your favourite cake in moderation.

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