Massive caveat here – if you are part of the one percent who has celiac disease or a gluten-free intolerance, it’s best to stick to gluten-free alternatives. However, most people who profess to be gluten-sensitive probably aren’t. And foods that contain a gluten-free label aren’t inherently healthier. Some have even suggested they could be worse for you. They often contain added sugar and fat, and fewer nutrients. The verdict: unless you do have a real gluten intolerance, it’s not worth shelling out on gluten-free.
This one's complicated. Dried fruit isn’t outright bad for you – in fact, it may contain more fiber and antioxidants called phenols than fresh fruit gram-for-gram. But it also contains more sugar and calories. Plus, you’re likely to tuck into a lot more fruit if you have it dried than you would had it been fresh. After all, when was the last time you ate four fresh apricots in a row? Dried apricots, on the other hand, are another story. Just something to keep in mind next time you grab a handful of banana chips or a bag of trail mix for your afternoon snack.
Sorry, sugar is still sugar. It doesn’t matter that it’s labeled “natural” or “organic”, agave nectar and other "healthier" or "natural" sugars (looking at you honey and coconut sugar), are not that much better for you than the white, refined stuff. Agave has been declared a health food because of its low-glycemic index. This means you don’t get that sugar spike and subsequent crash. Instead of glucose, it has an extremely high fructose content. Fructose has been linked to all sorts of conditions, including heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and cancer.
Coconut oil has been touted as a healthier alternative to other fats but this is false advertising, says the American Heart Association (AHA). It’s 82 percent saturated fats, which is far higher than either olive oil (14 percent) or your bog-standard chunk of butter (63 percent). Saturated fat raises your “bad” cholesterol levels and is linked to heart disease. Whereas 72 percent of the public thinks coconut oil is good for you, only 37 percent of nutritionists agree.
If you chose vegetable chips over the regular kind because it’s healthier, you might want to reconsider. Just like potato chips, they’re covered in salt and deep-fried. “Crisps [British for chips] are crisps, and even if they are made with vegetables, they are likely to contain too much in the way of fat, saturated fat and salt. In fact, the vegetable crisps here have higher levels of saturated fat and salt than some well-known, regular crisp brands,” Charlotte Sitling-Reed, a registered nutritionist, told The Independent.