There are some products that consumers in Spain consider healthy but that really are not so. However, there are some keys to avoiding these foods. Hint: always avoid added sugar.
Less healthy than they seem
In the supermarket there are some foods that seem healthy but really are not. To combat the effects of misleading advertising there are some keys so that they do not strain us.
The first step to eat healthy is to have fresh or little processed foods in our shopping cart (fruits, vegetables, fish, legumes, whole wheat bread, nuts, etc). In the case of somewhat processed products, avoid those with added sugars, high salt content or trans fats. Those that contain these components are usually ultra-processed, whose ingredient lists are quite long, so they are easy to detect.
The problem comes with those products that do not give as much cante, that is, beyond pizzas and fried foods. These are foods that have earned a reputation for unjustifiably healthy. However, it is not difficult to detect them. Just look at the food ingredient list. Here are some examples.
With a few exceptions, the pre-made sauces sold in the supermarket are not an example of healthy food to include frequently in our diet. Most can be added to the ultra-processed list (those that have more than five ingredients). Although a priori soy sauce may seem like a healthy product, the truth is that it is not so much. Let’s see.
As for calories, its caloric density is low, since it only provides about ten calories per tablespoon. Instead, this same portion has a high sodium content, between 600 and 1,000 milligrams, while the recommendation of the health authorities is not to exceed 2,000 milligrams a day. In addition, among the ingredients of soy sauce, sugar usually also appears, so, once again, the healthiest sauce will be the one we make at home.
In recent years, alternatives to cow’s milk have multiplied in Spain. There are many vegetable drinks available in stores: oatmeal, almond, rice, soy, coconut … the options are very varied. In addition to serving vegans, they are also an alternative for lactose intolerant people.
The problem that some brands present is that they incorporate sugar among their ingredients, something that must be avoided. For example, a glass of almond drink can contain up to 24 grams of sugar, according to sinazucar.org.
So how do you choose a good plant drink? According to the Júlia Farré Nutrition Center, there are some keys: that it does not have added sugars, choose those that have a higher percentage of dried fruit / legume / cereal, also those that are enriched with calcium, vitamin D and B12 and, the rule always basic, the fewer ingredients the better.
Corn or wheat pancakes are another of the products that are sold as healthy and satisfying snacks, but which have more nutritious and economical substitutes.
“Corn-rice pancakes or snacks are not a great snack. They usually contain an excess of salt, in addition to including refined products and oils of little nutritional interest. A cheaper snack by weight, more satisfying and much more practical is simply a fruit or some nuts “, as explained the dietitian-nutritionist Aitor Sánchez in El Comidista.
Other healthy snacking option: a couple of ounces of dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa, a natural yogurt or a handful of olives.
There are no healthy sugar substitutes. Both white sugar, brown sugar, honey or agave syrup should be consumed in moderation. There is no better sugar than another. And it is that, the caloric and nutritional contribution of these products is very similar, so there is no reason to consider some to be healthier than others.
The danger: falling into the mistake of thinking that alternatives to sugar are healthier and adding more. Not at all. Nutritionists agree that it is necessary to limit its consumption, since if it is taken in excess it can cause health problems such as type 2 diabetes.
Currently, the high consumption of sugar is already a problem. While the WHO recommends not to exceed 25 grams a day, a can of soda contains about 35 grams, which is why many people exceed it. Added to this is a wide range of pre-manufactured products rich in added sugars, which has led to an increase in obesity and overweight.
The healthiest thing is to avoid added sugars, since these are obtained naturally through healthy foods such as fruits or vegetables.