No bake gluten-free cookie square. Picture: Instagram

From coconut water and healthy popcorn to natural sugar alternatives such as agave syrup, more and more of us are trying to eat clean and swapping fatty snacks for healthier alternatives.

But according to three registered nutritionists, many of these trendy so-called health foods are actually not as good for our bodies as we may think.

Leading experts Rob Hobson, Rhiannon Lambert and Lily Soutter have revealed to FEMAIL Food&Drink the seven types of foods and drinks they wish we will all stop eating in 2017.

Last year in particular saw the rise and rise of popcorn snacks branded as healthy alternatives to crisps.

But are these packets really any good for you? Rob Hobson, registered nutritionist at Healthspan, warns us off them. 'I still don't get it with popcorn,' he says.

'It is munched as a guild-free snack by many dieters but even some of the 'healthiest' brands can still contain over 450 kcals per 70g bag, as well as being loaded with salt. Not really a health food.'

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Natural sweeteners 

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Natural alternatives to refined sugar such as maple syrup and agave syrup have been used by nearly every clean eating cookbook author, from Deliciously Ella to the Hemsley sisters.

But two nutritionists, Rob and Rhiannon, have warned us against using them.

Of agave syrup,Rhiannon Lambert said: 'Regular sugar is typically 50 per cent fructose but agave can be as high as 90 per cent fructose. Although fructose won’t raise blood sugar levels in the short-term, it can contribute to insulin resistance, causing major increases in long-term blood sugar. This will increase the risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

She added: 'Agave syrup should be avoided given it is significantly worse than regular sugar comparing gram for gram.'

Rob agreed and included other natural sweeteners such as maple syrup and honey in his remarks. 'I often get asked which is the healthiest sweetener, or am told by people that one contains more nutrients or has a lower GI than another.

'Whether it's coconut sugar, honey, agave, maple syrup: they are all still sugar. Whilst these may be a better alternative to table sugar, they still need to be used sparingly. There is no healthy sweetener.'

Coconut water

Coconut water has been a huge drink trend for several years now, and it doesn't look like it's going away anytime soon.

But Lily says this 'health' drink has some sinful secrets. 'There’s so much hype around the health benefits of coconut water, but the truth is, it’s packed full of sugar,' she says.

'Did you know that the average 330ml carton of coconut water has more sugar than a Krispy Kreme doughnut? And it’s so easy glug down within seconds. Unfortunately, the additional potassium and other electrolytes you receive from this beverage simply do not outweigh the negatives that come with the additional sugar.'

She added: 'The problem with coconut water is when we glug back more than a chocolate bar's worth of sugar before 9am, it inevitably leads to blood sugar spikes and crashes.'

She advises swapping coconut water with infusing water with berries overnight instead.

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Protein bars

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Protein bars are a quick and convenient snack for on the go, particularly if you're exercising. But they're on Lily's 'what not to eat' list.

'You may want to think twice next time you grab and gobble, as many of these bars are high in calories, sugar, hydrogenated oils, cheap fillers, binders and stabilisers,' she warns.

'Maybe if you’re an elite athlete, they could be a convenient way to up your protein and calorie intake, but for the average person the nutritionally void, low-quality ingredients can lead to weight gain, and are hard for the body to digest.'

Lily advises making your own homemade protein bars instead using wholesome ingredients, but warns not to use too much sugar.

Breakfast buscuits

Breakfast biscuits the type advertised on TV as an alternative to an energy bar  are one of Rhiannon's pet hates.

'Despite marketing suggesting you'll get four hours of steady energy on the go, some breakfast biscuits contains as much as 13g of sugar per serving the equivalent to three teaspoons of sugar or a chocolate bar,' she says.

'At breakfast, a high protein meal with complex carbohydrates should be consumed to ensure our blood sugar levels are balanced and our bodies have sufficient fuel to serve as energy.

'Research suggests items like breakfast biscuits which contain sucralose raise blood sugar levels, making us hungrier soon after and actively contribute towards weight gain.'

Frozen yoghurt

This healthy alternative to ice cream may not be as healthy as we may think, according to Lily.

She says: 'The cold truth about frozen yoghurt is that it often contains more sugar than ice cream, because in order to get rid of the tart taste, companies often have to add additional sweetness. So even if it’s fat-free, in reality the sugar in it will lead to the weight gain.

'And we haven’t even come to the toppings yet, many of which often negate the claimed health attributes of the frozen yoghurt. It just goes to show that low fat doesn’t always mean healthier.'

Lily suggests instead blending yoghurt and berries with a pinch of cinnamon before freezing in ice-lolly moulds for a low sugar, healthy frozen yoghurt alternative.

Gluten free foods

More and more of us are cutting out gluten from our diets even if we don't need to for medical reasons – but Rhiannon says this could have a severe impact on your health.

'If you remove gluten from your diet without medical necessity, you will run the risk of missing out on some vitamins and other essential nutrients.

'Many gluten-free products available tend to be quite low in iron, calcium, fibre, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate.

'Many gluten-free foods would be tasteless without the higher levels of sugar, salt, and other additives to make them more palatable.

'And don't forget that gluten-free junk food is still junk food.'