Sorry – These 5 'Healthy' Foods Aren't Actually That Great For You

Sometimes ‘healthy alternatives’ aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
Woman cooking and tasting tomato sauce
fcafotodigital via Getty Images
Woman cooking and tasting tomato sauce

With the war on processed food waging on, I’ve been turning my sights to how I can make healthier choices when doing the Big Shop.

Checking the packaging’s traffic light system, reading ingredients lists for hidden sugars and unprouncable extras. But healthy living advocate Dr Michael Mosley has shared that some healthy alternatives are actually just as bad for us as the real thing.

Here are the top five foods he says to be on the look-out for…

Vegetable crisps

First up, good ol’ veggie crisps. They often look like the healthier alternative to my go-to salt and vinegar McCoy’s, but Mosley says the amount of veggies in each packet are too small to provide any real nutritional benefits. Boo.

“Not to mention, their sodium content, mixed with their carbohydrates and fat content, makes them so addictive that you’ll struggle to stop yourself going back for more,” he says.

So, what to have instead? Health guru Mosley recommends veggies in their natural form, sliced up and served with a nice dip like guac or hummus.

You can also make your own crisps by slicing potato thinly, drizzling over some high-quality extra virgin oil and a pinch of salt and seasoning. Dip in some salsa and you’ve got yourself a party in your mouth.

Low-fat products

We’ve been told for decades that fat is the enemy, so supermarkets have loaded their shelves with low-fat alternatives, despite the evidence telling us that some fat is actually good for us, especially products like full-fat Greek yoghurt, avocado and nut butters.

Michael Mosley agrees: “Low-fat products are stripped of their nutrients and often laden with additives and sugar. This is to compensate for the flavour that gets removed in the process of making them fat-free.”

“Products high in sugar and low in fat will spike your glucose levels and leave you craving more as there is nothing to prolong the energy release,” he says.

A study of 20,000 women over a period of 20 years carried out by researchers at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute found links between the consumption of full-fat dairy products (milk and cheese) and weight loss.

Over a 10-year period, the women who regularly consumed full-fat milk saw a lower BMI.

“The surprising conclusion was that increased consumption of cheese meant that overweight women lost weight,” said Alicja Wolk, professor at Karolinska Institute, to Svenska Dagbladet.


With the war on full-fat products, we’ve been sold over the years that margarine is a healthier alternative to 100% dairy butter. But Michael Mosley says the way that margarine is processed makes it quite unhealthy for us.

“Margarine is processed and made from vegetable oil. As vegetable oil is liquid at room temperature, a process called hydrogenation takes place, which resultantly creates trans fat,” he explains.

“Trans fats should be avoided where possible as there is a plethora of scientific evidence linking increased intake of trans fat with inflammation, heart disease, stroke and poor cholesterol.”

Flavoured porridge sachets

Porridge sachets are super handy and delicious. I’m looking at you Quakers Golden Syrup. But according to Mosley, some brands come with a whopping 16g of sugar per serving and you “may as well have three spoonfuls of sugar”. Making it from scratch is your best option, and it really doesn’t take that long in the grand scheme of things.

If you like added flavour in your porridge, pre-make it by adding dried spices like cinnamon to your bag of porridge, and then you don’t have to worry every time you make a portion.

Commercial salad dressing

One quick way to make salad delicious is with a fancy dressing, but a lot of shop-bought dressings come with a lot of additives to extend their shelf life, thickeners, hidden sugars and other nasties.

“Instead of highly processed dressings, try a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon or a glug of good quality balsamic vinegar (just definitely not the glaze!),” recommends Mosley.