02/13/2012 12:33 EST | Updated 04/13/2012 05:12 EDT

Health Washing: How to Avoid Supermarket Cover-Ups


It's an honour to be writing my first blog for The Huffington Post. Since food is my life, passion and probably the only thing I talk about, I thought I'd enlighten you about foods we perceive are healthy but actually are not. Naturally when we hear the words fried chicken, French fries, poutine or ice cream, we think high fat and high calorie. But there are many foods lurking in our shopping cart that you initially thought were healthy but in fact are not.

Check out the worst "healthy" offenders -- and what to try instead:

Unhealthy Health Foods

Bran muffins sound so healthy with all that fibre that natural bran contains. But the reality is that a large muffin can have close to 600 calories, 30 grams of fat and only 3 grams of fibre. The oil and the sugar definitely outweigh any benefits from bran.

You'd be better off with a breakfast sandwich with egg and cheese on an English muffin!

How about a good old tuna sandwich on whole wheat bread, loaded with lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers? It sounds healthy as tuna contains omega-3 fatty acids, but hidden away is the excess mayonnaise, salt and oil. All of this can lead to a nutritional disaster with around 750 calories and 40 gm of fat! Next time try a sliced turkey or roast beef sandwich, adding even a slice of cheese and loads of sliced veggies. Avoid the mayo and go for mustard. If you want tuna at home, purchase the one packed in water and add light mayo and diced veggies.

How about energy bars? The bars can either be loaded with protein or complex carbs, but if you've ever read the ingredients, you'll stop counting after 15! Lots of hype here. They often contain high-fructose corn syrup, added sugar and artery-clogging saturated fat. They also can contain over 350 calories, which is excessive for a snack.

Get your protein from real sources like meat, cheese or dairy and complex carbs are found in any fruit, vegetable or whole grain you consume. Yes an energy bar is easier to wolf down, but keep it to once in a blue moon (which doesn't happen very often!). If you're really stuck getting real food, they're a quick fix, but the amount of chemicals and preservatives may preserve you longer than you think!

Energy drinks and vitaminwater are also all hype. If you're doing more than one and a half hours of intense exercise, then sure, enjoy a bottle. But those hyped up electrolytes consisting of sodium and potassium can quickly be consumed in a good old banana and handful of nuts, without the 40 gram of sugar (10 tsp) in one bottle!

How about foods that contain the desired whole wheat, which contains B vitamins and may reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. Well you'll see words like multigrain, 7 grain, ancient grains or just plain wheat. But these may not actually contain 100 per cent heart-healthy, whole wheat grains. The other descriptions may easily contain refined grains, so you're not getting the nutrition you're looking for. Just read the labels and look for the 100 per cent whole wheat flour being the first ingredient.

Don't fall for "supermarket cover-ups," read between the lines!