"Low-fat" foods are always good for you, right? Wrong! Here are some common misconceptions.
If you want to avoid highly processed foods, don't be fooled by these food myths:
• A healthy diet means eating "low-fat" and "fat-free" food products. Wrong!
Most low-fat products have to be highly processed for the fat to be removed without negatively affecting the taste or texture.
• Multigrain crackers are better than crackers made from white flour. Wrong (in most cases)!
"Multigrain" is a misleading buzzword because unless those grains are actually "whole grain," the product is really no better than those made from refined grains (such as white flour). It simply means the product contains more than one type of grain.
• It's "natural" so it must be a good choice. Wrong!
If a product is natural, it simply means it wasn't made from any artificial ingredients, which is certainly desirable, but don't forget that white flour, sugar, and even high-fructose corn syrup are all derived from "natural" ingredients and they are also all highly refined.
• Organic packaged food is better than conventional. OK, mostly true.
The problem is though that since the product is organic, people sometimes just assume it's also good for you. But there's an awful lot "organic junk food" out there that's still highly processed (like organic cookies, organic ice cream sandwiches and organic candy), so no matter what the package says you still have to read -- and scrutinize -- the ingredient label.
• High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is much worse for you than sugar. Wrong! HFCS has not been proven to be worse for you than sugar. It's just a "reliable marker for a food product that has been highly processed."
• The bread that's being made in the grocery store bakery is "fresh." Wrong (in most cases)!
While it's true that many supermarkets are baking bread in the store, often they didn't make the dough themselves from scratch, which means it's full of preservatives and other unnecessary additives like dough conditioners.
• Margarine substitutes are better than butter. Wrong!
As Michael Pollan says in his book "Food Rules," "Avoid foods that are pretending to be something they are not" because it's best to just stick with the "real" thing as opposed to an imitation.