Which foods do people think are healthy but are actually unhealthy?

Quotes on healthy food vs junk food

I think its important to start with me saying that I hate the unhealthy vs healthy debate when it comes to food.

Good vs Bad is a natural human bias, but it tends to create a bit of a toxic food environment.

It hurts our relationship with food and increases confusion about nutrition, rather than enhancing it.

,Healthy or unhealthy, is entirely context, and dosage-dependent.

,As Ill detail in my answer, some cruciferous vegetables, by and large, are very healthy for the majority of people.

However, they can become unhealthy in people with selenium or iodine deficiency and other thyroid-related disorders.

,Likewise, even something we all generally demonize, sugar, can be very useful in the context of recovery from intense physical activity.

It can also increase performance in long-duration endurance performance as well.

For most people, a diet high in sugar certainly isnt a very good idea, but it can have its place for particular objectives.

,Juice, is easily over consumed, but in small manageable doses could also have a place in your diet, and many have been shown to have positive health effects too.

,Yogurt, in its plain form, is also generally considered healthy.

However, take a look at the grocery store selection and youll see that the majority of people opt for sugar-laden alternatives (generally youll see as high as a 20:1 selection of sweetened versions to plain versions).

,How you treat your food is important and marketing is generally in place to make you eat more than an ideal quantity of food overall.

Provided you can manage ideal dosages, most foods are not 100% bad for you (the only real exception I can think of, off the top of my head is hydrogenated trans-fatty acids found in many processed vegetable fats -- and even then, some ingestion wont kill you), nor 100% good for you.

,If you tried to eat every single item of food ever quoted in a study, as having positive health benefits, in quantities that have been shown to have those benefits, every single day, youd no doubt be well beyond your needed energy intake, despite the high quality of your food.

,You cant do it all, eat EVERYTHING thats healthy and avoid EVERYTHING that is unhealthy.

,This will still most likely lead to weight gain and the detrimental health effects that are generally associated with obesity (like diabetes, CVD, etc.




This is despite having what most people could, or might consider a healthy diet.

Overall quantity still matters even for research proven healthful foods.

,You can still overeat foods that many of us associated with health, its just less likely because they are generally harder to overconsume.

Whether they are full of more fibre, and protein, have high water content, or are more satiating in general, we have a harder time eating too much of them in their less altered states.

,Furthermore, we cant demonize all forms of processing, or alterations to food either.

Many forms of processing unlock nutrients and make them more bioavailable to us.



in many cases, cooking/processing unlocks nutrients so that they can more easily be digested and absorbed.

For example, various protein powders can be very useful in many contexts, though quite processed by many peoples standards.

Its namely added refined oils/fats, in combination with simple sugars and excessive salts, in place of other more valuable micro and macronutrients (like protein and fibre), that tend to be the most problematic for most people.

,,With that in mind, here are some advertised foods that you can have a chuckle about to yourself:,Fat-Free (typically = loaded with simple sugars instead)All-Natural or Made from Natural Ingredients (as if natural prevented Lead or Mercury from being very toxic)Organic and yet, still processed into a box or packaged (not ALWAYS but very often)Comes in a box or package and has a very long shelf life thanks to preservatives and heavy processing (think many crackers or chips though not necessarily all of them, and not necessarily that bad in appropriate quantity)Juice (especially types that have sugar added and are not 100% juice, these often get counted as a serving of fruit or vegetables, in my opinion - mistakenly)Most breakfast cereals (throw a bunch of heavily processed grains and ingredients together, market it as healthy like Special K, ya right.




)Yogurt (if were talking plain, high protein versions, OK maybe, but most people opt for types with a ton of added sugar - see Fat-Free above too)Dried Fruit (in small quantities sure, but Ive known a lot of clients who go to town on these and they are very energy-dense, particularly in sugars, making them easy to overeat - a small cupped hand is generally 1 serving)Some RAW Vegetables (particularly many cruciferous vegetables and soy that have goitrogenic properties - i.


A high quantity of these particularly raw in your diet like supposedly miracle health foods kale, collards, broccoli, etc.



can alter thyroid function over time if over consumed - Keep in mind that these are still very healthful in appropriate dosages for the majority of people, that overconsumption is probably more than a few servings per day (so youd have to eat A LOT of them) for healthy people and that cooking negates a significant amount of this effect overall.

You are more at risk if you are deficient in iodine or selenium, so for most people, this is generally not a major concern.

)Many commercially produced Vegan, Vegetarian and Paleo foods.




processed is processed, regardless of whether or not the ingredients fit loosely into a dieting strategy - that vegan-soy-like-burger product, is not really any better off than the commercially produced hamburger)A lot of other marketing speak foods, that use jargon into fooling you not to read the ingredient list or research how it was manufactured/made and from what sources.

,Anything touted as a Miracle Health Food or Superfood because it encourages greater overall consumption, under the notion that more-is-better.

There is always the potential for the overconsumption of any food, even for highly perceived healthful foods like dark leafy green vegetables or healthful seeds like flax or chia.

Dosage is an important consideration, you can overconsume nearly anything, so remember that variety is a reasonably important consideration in any diet.

,Most of these are really public perceptions.

Healthy eating is really quite different to a variety of people based on their own belief patterns and perceptions.

,Its not really black and white.

,I eat eggs almost every day for breakfast.

But my parents still view eggs as cholesterol bombs that will negatively impact your cholesterol (despite evidence in the last decade to the contrary) and thus health.

My cholesterol is in a completely normal range.

Likewise, I drink full-fat grass-fed milk semi-regularly, eat red meat usually once or twice a week, and cook with coconut oil/milk, butter and ghee in reasonable quantities (saturated fat is about 1/3 of my total fat intake generally).

This is sacrilegious to many people who grew up in a time when saturated fats were heavily demonized.

,If I were worried a lot about their consumption, it would probably lead to negative health effects.

AKA The Nocebo Effect.

Dosage and context always matter a great deal when discussing healthy or unhealthy foods too.

To the hypertensive, limiting salt is probably a good idea.

To the healthy person, if you cook most of your own food, cooking with salt is probably not a big deal (and makes stuff a little tastier.




A few small daily doses/servings of raw cruciferous vegetables is probably fine for the majority of people who dont have any issues with their thyroid, iodine or selenium deficiency.

However, six servings a day over a year or more could eventually lead to a poor outcome too.

,At the end of the day, its really more important to keep in mind context.

Is eating Vegan or Vegetarian or Paleo a healthy eating strategy? Generally, yep!,However, you can still fall into any of those nutritional camps and not have a great diet overall if youre not meeting your nutritional requirements or are getting foods from poor sources overall.

Potato chips and french fries are still Vegan.

Though if you eat them once a month, probably not going to significantly alter your triglycerides readings either.

,Furthermore, while I generally encourage people to eat more whole minimally processed foods, the keyword that some people seem to miss is minimally.

,Bread (think something like Ezekiel bread) can still have a healthy place in your diet, and by all accounts is fairly processed overall (ground flour, salt, water, yeast, mixed together and baked).

Its the extremely processed stuff that I think most people should generally avoid (though having some from time to time, is probably not a HUGE deal breaker either).

Here might be another example of where context is also important, gluten-full bread is very unhealthy for the celiac but mostly fine for everyone else.

,Other examples of food of this nature may include:,Cheese (especially Raw, and/or minimally processed varieties) - could be potentially healthful (dairy consumption is positively correlated to maintaining a healthy weight),Yogurt/Kefir (provided it is plain) (again, dairy, but also some fermented products improve gastrointestinal healthy in some people too),Many fermented foods like Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Kombucha, etc.



(though overconsumption can also cause some stomach issues and there is a risk with raw fermentation going off)100% Juice or Juice you make yourself (easy to over-consume because its a liquid, but certainly a glass a few times a week for most people wont break the bank if they so chose),Dried fruit (provided they are consumed in appropriate quantity - i.


sparingly and perhaps the preservative-free types are generally better - if you look at dried cranberries, youll often see added sugar and sunflower oil.



what?),Hamburgers youve made yourself with minimal ingredients from high-quality sources in particular (I make burgers all the time, but avoid the caloric bombs by using leaner chuck and skipping the buns and heavy sauces),Many homemade/minimally processed soups (which are processed look on the labels of some canned soups),Many raw vegetables are great for you, while simply cooking others negates 1/3 of any goitrogenic effects (Im not personally a fan of all raw diets, but to each their own I suppose, cooking can often make many great vitamins and nutrients more bioavailable).

,Many protein powders (extremely processed when you think about it, I look for ones with ingredients like 3-4 ingredients whey, vanilla, cocoa and stevia only, but very useful for people who are very physically active)To imply that all processed food is bad for you is misleading.

Its also bound to lead to a lot of psychological anxiety/stress for the modern human being.

,Eat manageable quantities and there is most likely no appreciable health detriment of certain foods, but nearly everything and anything can be over-consumed if you put a lot of effort forth.

Its just generally harder to over-consume whole minimally processed foods in general because they require a lot more from us digestively speaking.

They leave us feeling full for longer and are more difficult to break down/process.

,Most public health organizations allot 10% of diet overall to allow some processed foods like sugar as a tolerable limit; Its better to think of food as existing on a spectrum rather than healthy and unhealthy (or good and bad).

Id argue that you can probably include some cheesecake, pizza or other publicly perceived bad foods here or there in moderation with great success.

More and more it appears that being too restrictive with your diet may create some negative psychological experiences.

,Remember that other things like high stress/anxiety, lack of regular movement, or lack of sleep, can have an equally profound effect on health and are major contributors to things like heart disease.

,At some point you have to ask yourself:,Is it really worth it to always try to have the perfect healthy diet all the time?Id argue no.



in fact, people who do, are far more likely to binge eat, yo-yo diet, use short-term dieting solutions and suffer from psychological eating problems like cognitive dietary restraint.

That is a vicious cycle that is incredibly difficult to overcome.