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Updated 31 July 2017

Why you should avoid these 5 ‘diet’ foods

You might be thinking that you're doing your body a favour when you buy these items, but they are really not good for you.

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We have been brainwashed by marketing tactics to shop for groceries that are labelled as "sugar free" or "low fat".

Yet, these products are not all that it's cracked up to be and will not be beneficial for weight-loss or your overall health in the long run.

Many people will tend to overeat on these foods because they are "good" for you.

Also, while an effort has been made by manufacturers to lower the calories, these foods contain many additives that are not good for you at all.

Here are five to cross off your shopping list:

1. Diet soda

Rethink your drink and skip the diet soda. Research done at Purdue University shows that drinking lots of soda with artificial sweeteners can boomerang and cause weight gain and even diabetes. Opt for water or herbal tea to stay hydrated and curb appetite between meals. Health24 also elaborated in the past that diet soda can increase your risk for kidney diseases. Another study also found that diet soda can increase the risk of stroke and heart disease.

2. 'Low-fat' foods

The process behind "low-fat" food is exactly what the name says: the actual percentage of fat on the label might be low, but high in several other ingredients, such as sugar. and other additives to make up for taste and density. So while something might contain zero fat, the chances are great that the sugar content is much higher. In a previous article, Health24 explored this notion, and mentioned that people should be focusing on the quality of the food, rather than the actual fat-content. Skip all diet foods that replace fat with sugar, like low-fat cookies. Keep in mind that even healthy-sounding foods like no-fat yogurt can be guilty of this and might be containing more sugar.

3. Reduced-fat peanut butter

Stop being afraid of the fat content in your products. Ditch the reduced-fat peanut butter, which replaces good-for-you mono-unsaturated fats with sugar. Peanuts and peanut butter is also a great source of biotin which is essential for hair and nail growth. Opt for regular, no-sugar-added peanut butter and remember watch portion sizes, because it's still high in kilojoules.

4. Margarine

The debate whether margarine or butter is better for you has been going on for decades. The dangers lurking in margarine have also been discussed on Health24; even one teaspoon of trans fats more than usual can dramatically increase your risk for a heart attack. Margarine is often marketed as a good substitute for butter, but the ingredients in a block of margarine are hardly healthy. The better alternative to both is extra virgin olive oil, which is a plant-based fat without any nasty ingredients.

5. Multigrain bread

Multigrain bread sounds great, but unless it's made from a variety of whole grains, you're getting refined flours without the original nutrients or the appetite-satisfying effect of fibre. Ditto with granola, which also has lots of carbs (often from added sugars), but not necessarily whole grains. Most people believe that multigrain breads are still better for us than white bread, but a recent study discussed on Health24 actually proved this wrong. However, if your digestive system can tolerate wholewheat or multigrain products, you shouldn't have to steer clear completely; just be label-savvy and know how much fibre content and grains are actually present in your loaf of bread. 

To shop smart, always read the labels on all packaged diet foods to see whether high-fat, high-calorie ingredients were replaced with healthy ones.

All images provided by iStock

 
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