• Amarildo Prendi

3 Vegan Foods That You Shouldn't Buy at the Supermarket

Food companies and retailers have become skilled at using buzz words such as "low-fat," "natural," and more recently "plant-based" or "vegan" to encourage people to buy their products under the guise of being healthy. However, if you look closely at the list of ingredients on the back, you may additionally find that these products are heavily processed and contain excess amounts of sugar, fat, salt, flavorings, fillers, or artificial coloring.

1. Energy bars

If you have just done a half-marathon, been hiking all day, or maxed out your hour-plus gym workout then an energy bar may be what you need to refuel. However, most people who are sedentary or minimally active don't want all the carbs and calories that come in these packaged energy bars. Chances are it would take hours to burn off the "energy" in these wrappers, and if you are sitting at your desk, you're not going to expend that amount of calories. They call them energy bars for a reason: they are energy-dense containing added sugars, fats, and calories. Some have as many as 360 Calories, 15 grams of fat, and 50 grams of carbohydrates per bar.

2. Fruit smoothies

As tempting as delicious fruit smoothies can be, they're not the best choice for managing weight and regulating energy. Some smoothies contain added sugars or filler juices such as grape juice, so look out for these on labels. Even if your smoothie is made simply from fruit with no added ingredients, it can still contain around 35 grams of natural sugar – which can spike your blood glucose and lead to weight gain if you make a habit of having a smoothie every morning. The same goes for that acai bowl, which can have more calories than lunch.

It's useful to remember that when we eat whole fruit, our digestive system needs to break down the cell walls of natural fiber to release the sugars and beneficial nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. When consuming a fruit smoothie or juice it truly is been frothed and blended, all that hard work your body would normally do has been done by the machine, so the sugar gets released more quickly and will store as fat if you don't burn off that energy. Some smoothies contain over 500 calories, so if you drink one, think of it as a meal.

3. Sweetened plant-based milk

Most plant milk is ultra-processed and over half of the available products on the market contain added sugar, according to a 2021 study. Avoid sweetened or flavored plant milks, which tend to have higher amounts of added sugar.

Plant milk can be the basis of transitioning from dairy to a healthy plant-based diet and there are many alternatives available that contain no added sugars or less added sugars so look at the label. It's useful to remember that four grams of sugar equal one teaspoon — so if you wouldn't put two teaspoons of sugar on your oatmeal in the morning, why pour it on instead?

Originally published: The Beet

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