Unhealthy foods are the main reason the world is fatter and sicker than ever before.
Surprisingly, some of these foods are considered healthy by many people.
Here are 15 “health foods” that are really junk foods in disguise.
1. Processed “Low-Fat” and “Fat-Free” Foods
The “war” on saturated fat is the biggest mistake in the history of nutrition.
When this started, processed food manufacturers jumped on the bandwagon and started removing the fat from foods.
But there’s a huge problem … food tastes horrible when the fat has been removed. That’s why they added a whole bunch of sugar to compensate.
The words “low-fat” or “fat-free” on a packaging usually mean that it is a highly processed product that is loaded with sugar.
2. Most Commercial Salad Dressings
Vegetables are incredibly healthy.
The problem is that they often don’t taste very good on their own.
That’s why many people use dressings to add flavor to their salads, turning these bland meals into delicious treats.
But many salad dressings are actually loaded with unhealthy ingredients like sugar, vegetable oils and trans fats, along with a bunch of artificial chemicals.
Although vegetables are good for you, eating them with a dressing high in harmful ingredients will totally negate any health benefit you get from the salad.
Make sure to check the ingredients list before you use a salad dressing … or make your own using healthy ingredients.
3. Fruit Juices … Which Are Basically Just Liquid Sugar
A lot of people believe fruit juices to be healthy.
They must be … because they come from fruit, right?
But a lot of the fruit juice you find in the supermarket isn’t really fruit juice.
Sometimes there isn’t even any actual fruit in there, just chemicals that taste like fruit. What you’re drinking is basically just fruit-flavored sugar water.
That being said, even if you’re drinking 100 percent quality fruit juice, it is still a bad idea.
If you didn’t know, fruit juice actually contains a similar amount of sugar as a sugar-sweetened beverage.
4. “Heart Healthy” Whole Wheat
Most “whole wheat” products aren’t really made from whole wheat.
The grains have been pulverized into very fine flour, making them raise blood sugar just as fast as their refined counterparts.
In fact, whole wheat bread can have a similar glycemic index as white bread.
But even true whole wheat may be a bad idea … because modern wheat is unhealthy compared to the wheat our grandparents ate.
Around the year 1960, scientists tampered with the genes in wheat to increase the yield. Modern wheat is less nutritious and has some properties that make it much worse for people who are intolerant to gluten.
Whereas wheat may have been a relatively healthy grain back in the day, the stuff most people are eating today is best avoided.
5. Cholesterol Lowering Phytosterols
There are certain nutrients called phytosterols, which are basically like plant versions of cholesterol.
Some studies have shown that they can lower blood cholesterol in humans.
For this reason, they are often added to processed foods that are then marketed as “cholesterol lowering” and claimed to help prevent heart disease.
Butter was demonized back in the day, due to the high saturated fat content.
Various health experts started promoting margarine instead.
Back in the day, margarine used to be high in trans fats. These days, it has less trans fats than before but is still loaded with refined vegetable oils.
Margarine is not food… it is an assembly of chemicals and refined oils that have been made to look and taste like food.
If you want to improve your health, eat real butter (preferably grass-fed) but avoid processed margarine and other fake foods like the plague.
Recommending trans fat laden margarine instead of natural butter may just be the worst nutrition advice in history.
7. Sports Drinks
Sports drinks were designed with athletes in mind.
These drinks contain electrolytes (salts) and sugar, which can be useful for athletes in many cases.
However … most regular people don’t need any additional salts, and they certainly have no need for liquid sugar.
Although often considered “less bad” than sugary soft drinks, there really is no fundamental difference except that the sugar content is sometimes slightly lower.
It is important to stay hydrated, especially around workouts, but most people will be better off sticking to plain water.
8. Low-Carb Junk Foods
Low carb diets have been incredibly popular for many decades now.
However … food manufacturers have caught up on the trend and brought various low-carb “friendly” processed foods to the market.
This includes highly processed junk foods like the Atkins bars. If you take a look at the ingredients list, you see that there is no real food in there, just chemicals and highly refined ingredients.
These products can be consumed occasionally without compromising the metabolic adaptation that comes with low-carb eating. But they don’t really nourish your body … even though they’re technically low-carb, they’re still unhealthy.
9. Agave Nectar
Given the known harmful effects of sugar, people have been looking for alternatives.
One of the more popular “natural” sweeteners is Agave nectar, also called agave syrup.
You will find this sweetener in all sorts of “health foods,” often with attractive claims on the packaging.
The problem with Agave is that it is no better than sugar. In fact, it is much, much worse …
Whereas sugar is about 50 percent fructose and High Fructose Corn Syrup about 55 percent, Agave contains even more … up to 70-90 percent.
Therefore, gram for gram, Agave is even worse than regular sugar.
See, “natural” doesn’t always equal healthy … and whether Agave should even be considered natural is debatable.
10. Vegan Junk Foods
Vegan diets are very popular these days, often due to ethical and environmental reasons.
However… many people promote vegan diets for the purpose of improving health (which is questionable).
There are many processed vegan foods on the market, often sold as convenient replacements for non-vegan foods.
Vegan bacon is one example.
But it’s important to keep in mind that these are usually highly processed, factory made products that are bad for just about anyone, including vegans.
11. Brown Rice Syrup
Brown rice syrup (also known as rice malt syrup) is a sweetener that is mistakenly assumed to be healthy.
This sweetener is made by exposing cooked rice to enzymes that break down the starch into simple sugars.
Brown rice syrup contains no refined fructose, just glucose.
The absence of refined fructose is good … but rice syrup has a glycemic index of 98, which means that the glucose in it will spike blood sugar extremely fast.
Rice syrup is also highly refined and contains almost no essential nutrients. In other words, it is “empty” calories.
Some concerns have been raised about arsenic contamination in this syrup, another reason to be extra careful with this sweetener.
12. Processed Organic Foods
Unfortunately, the word “organic” has become just like any other marketing buzzword.
Food manufacturers have found all sorts of ways to make the same junk, except with ingredients that happen to be organic.
This includes ingredients like organic raw cane sugar, which is basically 100 percent identical to regular sugar. It’s still just glucose and fructose, with little to no nutrients.
In many cases, the difference between an ingredient and its organic counterpart is next to none.
Processed foods that happen to be labelled organic are not necessarily healthy.Always check the label to see what’s inside.
13. Vegetable Oils
We are often advised to eat seed- and vegetable oils.
This is based on the fact that these oils have been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels, at least in the short term.
However … it’s important to keep in mind that blood cholesterol is a risk factor, not a disease in itself.
Even though vegetable oils can improve a risk factor, there is no guarantee that they will help prevent actual hard end points like heart attacks or death, which is what really counts.
In fact, several controlled trials have shown that despite lowering cholesterol, these oils can increase the risk of death … from both heart disease and cancer.
14. Gluten-Free Junk Foods
According to a 2013 survey, about a third of people in the U.S. are actively trying to avoid gluten.
Not surprisingly, the food manufacturers have brought all sorts of gluten-free foods to the market.
The problem with these foods, is that they are usually just as bad as their gluten-containing counterparts, if not worse.
These are highly processed foods that are very low in nutrients and often made with refined starches that lead to very rapid spikes in blood sugar.
So … choose foods that are naturally gluten free, like plants and animals, not gluten free processed foods.
Gluten-free junk food is still junk food.
15. Most Processed Breakfast Cereals
The way some breakfast cereals are marketed is a disgrace.
Many of them, including those that are marketed towards children, have all sorts of health claims plastered on the box.
This includes misleading things like “whole grain” or “low fat.”
But… when you actually look at the ingredients list, you see that it’s almost nothing but refined grains, sugar and artificial chemicals.
The truth is, if the packaging of a food says that it is healthy, then it probably isn’t.
The truly healthy foods are those that don’t need any health claims … whole, single ingredient foods.
Real food doesn’t even need an ingredients list, because real food is the ingredient.
YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Independence Day weekend is a busy time for coastal communities as people flock to the beaches to soak up the sun during the summer holiday. This year is different. Some of the country's most popular beach destinations in Florida and California have decided to close their beaches to stop the surge in coronavirus cases.
- The U.S. Isn't in a Second Wave of Coronavirus – The First Wave ... ›
- COVID-19 Masks Are Polluting Beaches and Oceans - EcoWatch ›
- No Social Distancing or Mask Requirement at Trump's Mt ... ›
- Trump's Fireworks Show at Mt. Rushmore Is a Dangerous Idea, Fire ... ›
For some combat veterans, the Fourth of July is not a time to celebrate the independence of the country they love. Instead, the holiday is a terrifying ordeal. That's because the noise of fireworks – loud, sudden, and reminiscent of war – rocks their nervous system. Daily fireworks in many U.S. cities in recent weeks have no doubt been interfering with the sleep and peace of mind of thousands of veterans.
What Is PTSD?<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/veterans-refugees-and-victims-of-war-crimes-are-all-vulnerable-to-ptsd-130144" target="_blank">PTSD</a> can occur when someone is exposed to extreme exposure traumatic experience. Typically, the trauma involves a threat of death, serious injury, or sexual violence. Along with war veterans, it happens to refugees; to victims of gun violence, rape and other physical assaults; and to survivors of car accidents and natural disasters like earthquakes or tornadoes.</p><p>PTSD can also happen by witnessing trauma or its aftermath, often the case with <a href="https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ptsd/what-is-ptsd" target="_blank">first responders</a> and <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-many-faces-anxiety-and-trauma/202006/invisible-wounds-the-frontline-heroes" target="_blank">front-line workers</a>.</p><p>All this adds up to tens of millions of Americans. Up to 30% of combat veterans and first responders, and 8% of civilians, <a href="https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/treat/essentials/epidemiology.asp" target="_blank">fulfill the diagnostic criteria for PTSD</a>. And that criteria is not easily met: symptoms of PTSD include nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive trauma memories, difficulty sleeping, avoidance of reminders of trauma, negative emotions, and what we call "hyperarousal symptoms."</p>
Fireworks Can Trigger Flashbacks<p>Hyperarousal, a core component of PTSD, occurs when a person is hyper-alert to any sign of threat – constantly on edge, easily startled and continuously screening the environment.</p><p>Imagine, for instance, stepping down the stairs in the dark after hearing a noise; you're worried an intruder might be downstairs. Then a totally unpredictable loud sound explodes right outside your window.</p><p>For people with PTSD, that sound – reminiscent of gunfire, a thunderstorm or a car crash – <a href="https://theconversation.com/veterans-refugees-and-victims-of-war-crimes-are-all-vulnerable-to-ptsd-130144" target="_blank">can cause</a> a panic attack or trigger flashbacks, a sensory experience that makes it seem as if the old trauma is happening here and now. Flashbacks can be so severe that combat veterans may suddenly drop to the ground, the same way they would when an explosion took place in combat. Later, the experience can trigger nightmares, insomnia or worsening of other PTSD symptoms.</p><p>Those of us who set off fireworks need to ask ourselves: Are those few minutes of fun worth the hours, days, or weeks of torment that will begin for some of our friends and neighbors – including many who put their lives on the line to protect us?</p>
Who Else Is Affected?<p>Millions of others, though not diagnosed with PTSD, may similarly be affected by fireworks. <a href="https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics" target="_blank">One in five Americans</a> have an anxiety disorder, many with symptoms of hyperarousal. Also impacted are those with autism or developmental disabilities; they find it difficult to cope with the noise, or just the drastic change from life routines. Then there are people who have to work, holiday or not: nurses, physicians and first responders, who have to be up at 4 a.m. for a 30-hour shift.</p><h3>How to Reduce the Negative Impact</h3><p>There are ways to reduce how fireworks affect others:</p><ul><li>For those with PTSD, the unexpected nature of fireworks is probably the worst part. So at least make it as predictable as possible. Do it in designated areas during designated times. Don't explode one, for instance, two hours after the designated time window. And avoid setting them off <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jul/04/fireworks-ptsd-fourth-of-july-veterans-shooting-survivors" target="_blank">on the 3rd</a>. People are less prepared then.</li><li>If you're aware that a veteran or trauma survivor lives in the neighborhood, move the noise as far as possible from their home and give them prior warning. Consider putting a sign in your front yard noting the time you'll set the fireworks.</li><li>Remember, it doesn't have to be super loud to make it fun. Consider using <a href="https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/504964-its-time-for-silent-fireworks" target="_blank">silent fireworks</a>. And you don't have to be the one who lights the fireworks. Simply enjoy watching while your city or township does it safely.</li></ul>
- 4 Ways Acupuncture Helps Restore Balance to the Body - EcoWatch ›
- Why Can't Veterans Get Medical Marijiuana for PTSD When People ... ›
Koala populations across parts of Australia are on track to become extinct before 2050 unless "urgent government intervention" occurs, warns a year-long inquiry into Australia's "most loved animal." The report published by the Parliament of New South Wales (NSW) paints a "stark and depressing snapshot" of koalas in Australia's southeastern state.
- First Koalas Rescued From Bushfires Returned to the Wild - EcoWatch ›
- Koalas Found 'Massacred' at Logging Site - EcoWatch ›
- Koalas Become 'Functionally Extinct' in Australia With Just 80000 Left ›
- Koalas Face Extinction Threat After Wildfires: New Report - EcoWatch ›
By Jeff Berardelli
For the past year, some of the most up-to-date computer models from the world's top climate modeling groups have been "running hot" – projecting that global warming may be even more extreme than earlier thought. Data from some of the model runs has been confounding scientists because it challenges decades of consistent projections.
International Effort to Evaluate Climate Models<p>For the past 25 years the international community has been evaluating and comparing the world's most sophisticated climate models produced by various teams at universities, research centers, and government agencies. The effort is organized by the World Climate Research Programme under the United Nations World Meteorological Organization.</p><p>Climate models are complicated computer programs composed of millions of lines of code that calculate the physical properties and interactions between the main climate forces like the atmosphere, oceans, and solar input. But models also go a lot further, incorporating other systems like ice sheets, forests, and the biosphere, to name a few. The models are then used to simulate the real-world climate system and project how certain changes, like added pollution or land-use changes, will alter the climate.</p><p>Every few years there is a new comprehensive international evaluation called the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP). In the sixth such effort, known as CMIP6 and now under way, experts are reviewing about 100 models.</p><p>Information gleaned from this effort will act as a scientific foundation for the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) next major assessment report, scheduled for release in 2021. The goal of the report – the sixth in 30 years – is to inform the international community about how much the climate has changed, and, importantly, how much change can be expected in coming decades.</p>
A Conundrum Emerges<p>Over the past year, the CMIP6 collection of models being reviewed threw researchers an unexpected curveball: a significant number of the climate model runs showed substantially more global warming than previous model versions had projected. If accurate, the international climate goals would be nearly impossible to achieve, and there would be significantly more extreme impacts worldwide.</p><p>A foundational experiment in every report addresses "sensitivity": If you double levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) that were in the air before the Industrial Revolution, how much warming do the models show? This doubling is not expected for a few more decades, but it is a quick way to communicate the critical role of greenhouse gases in changing the climate.</p><p>The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by 35% since the 1800s because of the burning of fossil fuels. As a result, global temperatures have already increased by more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit.</p><p>In the first IPCC assessment report, published in 1990, the answer to that question about the impact of doubling carbon dioxide gave a fairly wide range of results – between 2.7-8 degrees F of global warming. Since then, four more assessments issued six to seven years apart reached nearly the exact same conclusion on sensitivity.</p><p>But that sensitivity may, for the first time, change significantly in next year's assessment. Why? Because starting last year, numerous models in the CMIP6 collection displayed even bigger spikes in temperature upon doubling of CO2 concentrations. We're in serious trouble if the climate sensitivity falls in the mid or upper range of the previous assessments. But if the new, higher estimates are correct, the impacts on civilization would be catastrophic.</p>
In the above CarbonBrief interactive visualization, the bars offer a comparison in the range of sensitivity in the CMIP5 models (gray) and CMIP6 models (blue).
New and Encouraging Evidence Is Emerging<p>At first, scientists were uncertain whether the new model runs were on to something, so the international modeling community dug in to produce multiple studies. The results are not yet conclusive, but a gradual collective sigh of relief seems to be materializing.</p><p>"Evidence is emerging from multiple directions that the models which show the greatest warming in the CMIP6 ensemble are likely too warm," explains Dr. Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.</p><p>For example, <a href="https://www.earth-syst-dynam-discuss.net/esd-2020-23/" target="_blank">a study</a> released April 28 evaluated the past performance of the models making up the CMIP6 ensemble. The team assigned weights to each model based upon historical performance of their warming projections, weighing the poorer performing models less. By doing so, both the mean warming and the range of warming scenarios in the CMIP6 ensemble decreased, meaning the warmest models were the ones with weaker historical performance. This result supports a finding that a subset of the models are too warm.</p><p>That conclusion is supported by another new study evaluating one particular model – the Community Earth System Model (CESM2) – that showed greater warming. Using that model, the researchers simulated the climate in the early Eocene era, about 50 million years ago, when rainforests thrived in the Arctic and Antarctic. The CESM2 simulated a historical climate that seems way too warm compared with what is known about that era from geological data, indicating that the model is likely also too warm in its future projections.</p><p>Two other recent studies of the CMIP6 models being evaluated use clever analysis methods to <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.earth-syst-dynam-discuss.net/esd-2019-86/&sa=D&ust=1589209938203000&usg=AFQjCNHYwFB-1KqndGfJ4sXdrrm9DpbLaQ" target="_blank">narrow the range</a> of future warming projections and also <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/12/eaaz9549&sa=D&ust=1589209938203000&usg=AFQjCNEhKY1YZ19qgjSZ_hJM14JmzqXOXw" target="_blank">reduce the projected warming</a> of the CMIP6 models by 10 to 15%.</p><p>Through the intensive research spurred by the CMIP6 climate-sensitivity curveball, scientists have been able to turn a confounding challenge into a confidence builder, providing even greater certainty than they had before in both the abilities of the climate science community and in the computer models used. Moreover, the experience has helped unearth uncertainties remaining in the modeling process.</p><p>Experts conclude much of this uncertainty probably lies in the complexity of clouds. "We have been looking as a community at why the models with greater warming are doing what they are doing – and it's tied to cloud feedbacks in the southern mid-latitudes mostly," explains Schmidt.</p><p>In fact, <a href="https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/26/eaba1981" target="_blank">a new study</a> addressing the increased sensitivity was published in Science Advances stating, "Cloud feedbacks and cloud-aerosol interactions are the most likely contributors to the high values and increased range of ECS [sensitivity] in CMIP6."</p>
Understanding the Complexity of Clouds<p>It's long been known in climate modeling circles that cloud processes and interactions are a potential weak link for climate modeling. That reality has been brought front and center by the urgent challenges posed during this CMIP6 evaluation period, but the current evaluation of models also provides an opportunity for discovery and improvement.</p><p>Cloud complexity comes from the reality that clouds have a multitude of sizes, altitudes, and textures. Some clouds cool Earth by providing shade, reflecting sunlight back into space. Others act like a blanket, trapping heat and warming the world.</p><p>Given that about <a href="https://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/lookingatearth/icesat_light.html" target="_blank">70% of the globe</a> is covered by clouds at any given time, it's no surprise that they play an integral role in regulating the climate. The challenge is to figure out which types of clouds will increase, which will decrease, and what the net effect will be on cooling or warming as the climate changes.</p><p><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-019-0310-1" target="_blank">One study</a> last year reached an alarming conclusion: Left unchecked, the release of CO2 into the atmosphere may lead to a tipping point where shallow low clouds disappear – leading to runaway, catastrophic warming of nearly 15 degrees F. While scientists see that outcome as only a remote possibility, it drives home the urgent need to better understand clouds.</p><p>"We have a saying at NOAA: It isn't rocket science – it's much, much harder than that," quips Dr. Chris Fairall, ATOMIC's lead investigator. "One of the major problems for modeling is there is not clean separation of scales." The photo below is one that Fairall took from the NOAA P-3 aircraft.</p>
Investigating the Secrets of Clouds<p>To address the urgent question about the dynamics and role of clouds in a warming world, NOAA and European partners launched their ongoing research effort unprecedented in scale. The U.S. contribution, ATOMIC – short for Atlantic Tradewind Ocean-Atmosphere Mesoscale Interaction Campaign – is an international science mission that was featured recently on "<a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/video/study-aims-to-examine-links-between-climate-change-and-clouds/" target="_blank">CBS This Morning: Saturday</a>."</p>
- New Climate Study: Most Severe Warming Projections Are Now the ... ›
- 7 of the Best New Documentaries About Global Warming - EcoWatch ›
- What's in a Name? Global Warming vs. Climate Change in the Eyes ... ›
To hear many journalists tell it, the spring of 2020 has brought a series of extraordinary revelations. Look at what the nation has learned: That our health-care system was not remotely up to the challenge of a deadly pandemic. That our economic safety net was largely nonexistent. That our vulnerability to disease and death was directly tied to our race and where we live. That our political leadership sowed misinformation that left people dead. That systemic racism and the killing of Black people by police is undiminished, despite decades of protest and so many Black lives lost.
- Climate Crisis Brings India's Worst Locust Invasion in Decades ... ›
- Climate Crisis Made Australia's Historic Wildfires at Least 30% More ... ›
- 4 Climate Crisis Solutions No One Is Talking About - EcoWatch ›
- Top Government Scientist Transferred After Questioning Trump ... ›
- Trump Admin Manipulated Wildfire Science to Encourage Logging ... ›
- NOAA Officials Backed Trump's False Dorian Claims Under Threat ... ›
- Coronavirus and the Terrifying Muzzling of Public Health Experts ... ›
- 'Science Under Siege' From Trump Admin: New Report Warns We ... ›
More than 350 elephants have died in Botswana since May, and no one knows why.
- Botswana Auctions Off First Licenses to Kill Elephants Since Ending ... ›
- 'Heartbreaking' Vulture Poisoning in South Africa Raises Alarm ... ›