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Modern Day Diet Health Hazards 

Research has revealed that many of the modern foods we consume on a daily basis are not what they seem. The coffee you grab on the way to work, for example, could contain around 600 calories, a fifth of your ‘daily recommended allowance’.

Products from popular high street coffee chains, tested by Which?, were found to contain lashings of whipped cream, full fat milk and chocolate. And the food products were not much better. We look at some of the dietary health hazards lurking behind the shop counter.

  • Your Morning Coffee

Some of the coffees tested by Which? topped the scales at a whopping 600 calories, with unhealthy additions such as full-fat milk and cream upping the calorie count considerably. But don't think this means you can no longer enjoy your morning coffee. While a mocha coffee with full-fat milk may add up to 400 calories, switching to skimmed milk takes off over 100 of them instantly. Even better, opt for a skimmed-milk cappuccino, and then your beverage contains only 30 calories. Black coffee, or 'Americano', is still the least calorific, with an average of 17 calories a cup .

  • Sandwiches

Grabbing a sandwich for lunch should not have to be a hyper-calorific experience. But with many retailers swamping their sandwiches in mayonnaise and other high-fat ingredients, your waistline soon begins to feel the strain. The Which? report also said: "You might be surprised to know that some coffee shop sandwiches contain more calories, fat and salt than a McDonald's Big Mac." If you must have a sandwich for lunch, go to a local deli where you can see them make it up in front of you.

  • Low-fat Muffins and Cakes

The research by Which? also showed that the cake counter at most coffee shops is not much better. While no-one in their right mind thinks a cake could ever really be considered 'healthy', you might be surprised to read just how unhealthy muffins and other snacks in coffee chains really are. Some cake slices contained more than 600 calories each, while flapjacks contain over 400 calories. Previous research has revealed that so-called 'low-fat' alternatives are not much better, with some reduced fat blueberry muffins still containing more calories than a Mars Bar.

  • Salads

Healthy looking salads, like the one above, should be the healthiest thing on the menu in any restaurant. But more often than not they are the exact opposite. And we are not just talking about McDonald's and other fast food outlets. Heavy dressings and other fatty ingredients often make salads one of the most calorific items on the menu. Pre-packaged salads from supermarkets can be just as bad, so look closely at the ingredients list and nutritional information before buying.

  • Smoothies and Fruit Juices

While smoothies by ethical and brilliantly run companies like Innocent are full of fruit and nothing else, some less brilliant varieties are nothing but a health-con. Look closely and you will see that some smoothies and juices contain sugar (despite the fact that fruit is abundant in natural sugars) and other unnatural ingredients. The best thing you can do is buy a smoothie maker or liquidizer/blender and make your own.

  • Cereal Bars

Replacing biscuits and other trans-fat loaded snacks in favour of a cereal bar may seem like a good idea at the time, but the sad truth is that this particular corner of the food market has been flooded with misleading products, many of which are just as packed with sugar, fat and other food nasties. Make sure you have a good look at the label and make sure the ingredients are as natural as possible - there are still some good varieties out there.

  • Breakfast Cereals

Breakfast cereals, meanwhile, can be just as nefarious. And, sadly, many of the unhealthy kinds are aimed children. Research has shown that some breakfast cereals contain dangerously high levels of salt, sugar and fat and just one bowl of the biggest culprits are worse for you than a bar of chocolate.

  • Flavoured Water

While bottled water, like that pictured above, is absolutely fine, some flavoured waters are more questionable. They have to get their flavour from somewhere, and usually this involves surprising levels of sugar or sugar substitutes. At the end of the day… just drink plain filtered or bottled spring water… and if you want some flavour – add the juice of a fresh lemon or lime .. very cleansing and refreshing!