90% of Americans think they have a healthy diet, according to a survey by Consumer Reports. However, many foods and habits that are widely considered to be healthy may actually be causing more harm than good. Are you promoting a healthy lifestyle, or are your habits hurting you more than you know? Keep reading to find out what foods and habits are surprisingly unhealthy.
Surprisingly Unhealthy Foods
- Dried fruit and nuts: Dried fruit and nuts do have some nutritional value as an excellent source of fiber, vitamin C, and healthy fats and protein. However, the fruit and nut mixtures often have a ton of added salt and sugar. They may even include other items in the mix, such as chocolate chips. All of these things combined turn an otherwise healthy snack into a health hazard. Look for mixes without added sugar or salt, to enjoy the snack without the risk. Or buy plain nuts and dried fruit and make the mix yourself!
- Granola: Granola is a great source of potassium, fiber and protein, but it can also be high in fat and calories. In addition, many of the items eaten with or added to granola are unhealthy, such as yogurt, chocolate or sugar. Try pairing granola with low-calorie cereals to add more nutritional value, and portion control is always key.
- Bran muffin: While bran itself is very heart healthy and friendly to the digestive system, adding it to a muffin somewhat negates the nutritional value. Muffins contain a lot of sugar and fat. In fact, health expert and author Joan Salge Blake even said that a bran muffin could potentially have more calories than a donut! The best option is to head straight for the bran and skip the muffin altogether; but, if you must have the muffin, there are some recipes available for healthier muffins.
- Veggie patties: Veggie burgers certainly have a lot of healthy nutrients in them; however, the pre-made, frozen patties usually contain a lot of added ingredients such as yeast extract, cornstarch and gums which have little nutritional value. Check the label for the ingredients and nutrition information before buying veggie patties to make sure they are a healthy choice.
- Reduced fat peanut butter: You would think anything with reduced fat would be a healthier option than the fatty, regular stuff, right? While oftentimes this is the case, the fat in peanut butter is actually healthy. Removing it therefore eliminates a lot of the nutritional value. Stick with regular peanut butter, but watch your portions since peanuts tend to be high in calories.
Surprisingly Unhealthy Habits
- Using hand sanitizer: While hand sanitizer can be helpful for hand washing on the go, it really isn’t any more effective than soap and water. In addition, some hand sanitizing gels contain the ingredient triclosan, which can actually help promote the growth of bacteria. Look for brands that contain at least 60% alcohol which help kill bacteria more effectively.
- Wearing flip flops: Flip flops help keep your feet cool during the summer, but that’s about the only favor the shoes do for your feet. Flip flops have no arch support or structural support for your feet, which can lead to strained muscles. Likewise, wearing no shoes at all can have a similar effect. For your summer footwear, opt for comfortable sandals that will provide plenty of support for your feet.
- Drinking bottled water: While drinking it bottled is better than not drinking water at all, only drinking bottled water is not the healthiest option. Bottled water contains no fluoride, as opposed to tap water, which does. A fluoride deficiency can lead to tooth decay, so it’s important to try to get fluoride in your water. If you’re concerned about what might be in tap water, you can get a purifier such as Brita or PUR. These purifiers eliminate any impurities in the water but keep the fluoride.
- Cleaning with disinfecting products: Cleaners that claim to be disinfectant or antibacterial may seem useful in cleaning your home, but inhaling the chemicals in these cleaners can have negative effects on your health. These products contain chemicals called quaternary ammonium compounds, which can lead to asthma if inhaled. In addition, some products also contain a cancer-causing chemical called 2-butoxyethanol. Disinfectant cleaners have not been proven to be any more effective than regular cleaners, so you may want to stick with those if you are concerned about the health risk.
- Overbrushing your teeth: Brushing your teeth is definitely a good thing, but brushing them too hard or too often can be damaging to the enamel, making teeth more prone to tooth decay. Dentists recommend brushing for two minutes, 2-3 times a day with a soft bristled brush to avoid potential damage. If needed, you can rinse away any food particles left over from eating with a glass of water in between brushings.
Eating well and avoiding harmful habits is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of what could potentially have a negative influence on your health. To find out more about what you can do to be healthier, talk to your doctor.