06/27/2013 07:57 EDT | Updated 08/27/2013 05:12 EDT

Six Major Health Misconceptions

Shopping for healthy food in today's supermarkets requires a degree in reading nutritional labels! With every product promising improved health it's hard to tell what's true and what's not.

Every manufacturer wants you to jump on the health bandwagon to make you feel better about your choices. It's easy to get mislead and believe certain facts that aren't correct. Let's look at the most common: misconceptions:

Foods labelled "Natural" are healthier

A common example is foods made with high fructose corn syrup. The corn is natural but high fructose syrup is produced by using a centrifuge and several chemical reactions. Common foods that contain this corn syrup are soft drinks, salad dressings, processed snacks, breakfast bars and cereals. Another example is celery extract, used in processed meats labelled as natural. This is a form of a nitrate and helps preserve the meat.

Chocolate is bad for you

Not the dark variety. Milk and white chocolate contain more sugar than the darker varieties that have higher amounts of cocoa powder. The more cocoa, the more antioxidants called flavonoids, that can increase your good cholesterol (HDL). Be sure to select those bars with 60% cocoa or greater to reap the health benefits.

Bananas are number one in potassium

Potassium rich foods have a positive effect on blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. The most popular food supplying potassium is the banana, and has about 100 calories. But you can find the same amount of potassium in other foods with fewer calories. For example: a small potatoes has only 80 calories; 5 apricots have 80 calories; 1 stalk of broccoli has 50 calories and one cup of cantaloupe has only 55 calories.

Eating junk food keeps stress levels down

Potato chips, ice cream, chocolate bars, soft drinks and pastries give us a moment of bliss. But afterwards we berate ourselves for eating more than we should. A study in the British Journal of Psychiatry showed that close to 60% of a test group who ate high processed foods were the most depressed. Find healthy snacks from real food sources such as fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Stay away from beef

Eating lean meat from beef, lamb, poultry and pork has the best source of a complete protein and helps in weight control and insulin related issues. In a recent study at Harvard, meat was only connected to an increase in heart disease if processed such as with bacon, hot dogs and cold cuts.

Granola is good for you

Since granola is made from oatmeal we automatically think it has to be good for us. Sorry but you better stick to your oatmeal. Granola takes those naturally healthy rolled oats, coats them in sugar, bakes them in oil and then adds nuts and fruits which means excess calories and fat.

So put these "Old Wive's Tales" to rest and start eating your foods the way there were intended. Remember the closer to the source your food is, the healthier!

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