It can be difficult to eat healthy when there are so many foods out there that claim to be good for you but aren’t. Foods that are low in fat are often high in sodium and sugars, and foods that are gluten free can be packed with fats. Here, we break down some of the foods that appear to be healthy but actually aren’t, and why.
Dried fruits do pack a lot of nutrients, which is why they come across as healthy. However, since the fruits have been dried and are smaller, it’s easy to eat a lot more of them. With that comes much more sugar, calories, and carbohydrates. One snack sized pack of raisins (dried grapes) has 20 grams of sugar. However, you’d have to consume nearly 1.5 cups of grapes to get the same amount of sugar.
Some sushi can be extremely healthy. Other sushi can be extremely unhealthy. If you order a tuna roll with brown rice, you’re safe. However, more exotic rolls, such as anything that features white rice and tempura, can be full of calories, fat, and simple sugars. Sushi’s “spicy sauce” is also made with mayonnaise, which adds a lot of fat content. Always order your sushi with brown rice and avoid anything with too many extras, like fried seafood or spicy sauce.
If you’re not dealing with celiac, it’s best to avoid gluten-free options. Items such as gluten-free doughs and pastas are often packed with extra fats and sugars to make them more palatable and much less healthy. Plus, whole grains are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, and obesity, and should be embraced rather than avoided.
Frozen yogurt is actually much higher in calories and sugar than you might expect. If you indulge in two cups of frozen yogurt, you’re consuming close to 400 calories and 76 grams of sugar, according to Shape.com. Plus, consumers often load it with unhealthy toppings like sugary syrups and candy. Although you’ve been told that frozen yogurt is full of probiotics, extreme temperatures can lower the amount of probiotics in this dessert.
Sweet potato fries
Anything that resembles the word “fried” is not very healthy. Sweet potatoes actually have more calories in them than regular potatoes, plus a lot more sugar. Also, restaurants tend to balance out the sweetness with extra salt, which quickly ups your sodium intake. Unless you’re baking the fries and not adding any extra salt, you might as well order regular fries.
When you’re deciding on a new protein bar or meal replacement bar, take a good look at the ingredients. While protein bars do have a lot of protein, they often also have a ton of calories and sugar. Some protein bars’ nutrition is similar to candy bars. If you’re looking for a decent protein bar, always check the nutrition facts and ingredients list to make sure it’s not teeming with calories and added sugar.
Tangy, sweet, or spicy dressing is often what makes the whole salad. However, dressings are packed with fat and calories that your body doesn’t need. Store-bought dressings often have added artificial flavors and preservatives, too. Even “light” options are not always a good choice, since the lower fat content means a higher sugar and salt content for more flavor. You’re better off making your own salad dressing at home so you can control exactly what’s in it.
While fat-free, butter-free popcorn is a great snack option, any popcorn with butter in it is a big no — butter is full of saturated fat. Plus, most microwave popcorn bags contain a chemical known as PFOA that has been linked to certain cancers. Skip the microwaveable bag and make some fat free Jiffy Pop.
A glass of orange juice can provide essential vitamin C. Unfortunately, it can also provide a lot of unessential sugar and calories. Some fruit juices contain just as many calories as a soft drink, and, if it’s made from concentrate, it’s packed with unhealthy sugar. Even juices that are “100% natural” are often full of unhealthy ingredients. It’s best to eat an orange instead of sipping on a glass of orange juice.
Most veggie burgers are not nearly as healthy as you wish they’d be. Packed with sodium and largely processed, veggie burgers can actually do more harm than good when it comes to your health. Plus, most veggie burgers are held together with either butter or oil, both of which are very unhealthy when consumed in excess.
A turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread sounds like a healthy lunch option, but if that turkey is processed deli meat, steer clear. Deli meats are full of sodium — sometimes over 200 milligrams just in one slice. Plus, the World Health Organization recently classified certain deli meats as carcinogenic.
Yogurt does contain probiotics to help digestion, but flavored yogurts are often full of added sugars, corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners. The fruit in some flavored yogurts isn’t always real fruit, either. Greek yogurt topped with real fruit is a good way to ensure that you’re getting essential probiotics without putting tons of sugars into your body as well.
‘Healthy’ frozen dinners
Frozen dinner options that are marketed as healthy, like Lean Cuisine and Smart Ones, are not as healthy as they seem. While these meals tend to be low in calories and fat, they are often packed with sodium to add flavor. Lean Cuisine’s five-cheese lasagna also comes with 51 grams of carbohydrates and 14 grams of sugar.
Soup options that say “light” or “low fat” are not anything close to healthy. The reason is because of the uncanny amount of sodium in canned soup. A half-cup of Campbell’s condensed chicken noodle soup has nearly 900 milligrams of sodium in it — and that’s not even close to eating the entire can, which, let’s face it, most of us can do. Soups that have little or no fat can sometimes have even more sodium than that to try and make up for lost flavor.
It’s easy to assume that pasta infused with vegetables is good for you. However, when you take a closer look, it’s actually not. Most veggie pastas have one half cup of vegetables in every serving and are made with enriched wheat flour (white flour). This means that in order to get one cup of vegetables, you’d have to double the amount of pasta – which means doubling the amount of sugars and carbohydrates. You’re better off eating whole wheat pasta and filling your bowl with veggies.