9 More “Healthy” Foods To Skip

by in Healthy Tips, April 26, 2011
Yogurt with added fiber? Not as good as the real sources.

We’re saying “healthy” because there’s a lot more to making nutritious choices than meets the eye. Lots of foods present themselves as healthy when they’re anything but. On the other hand, eating too much of some good-for-you foods can get you into trouble, too. We started off with an original list of 9, but there are plenty more foods to watch out for.

Whole-Grain Bagels
It’s still a high-calorie bagel, even if it’s made with whole-grain ingredients. Plus, some bagels advertise “whole grain,” but are only made with a small fraction of whole-grain flour, so they’re lacking the healthy nutrients whole grains are known for. A whole-wheat bagel on occasion is fine, but if you’re watching those calories you’re better off with a slice of bread – you’ll save more than 300 calories!

High Fiber Yogurt
Yogurt doesn’t naturally contain fiber, no matter what the clever commercials say. Companies add synthetic versions that up the fiber count and these imposters don’t have the same health benefits as the good old real stuff. Get the facts on fiber and learn how to spot more of the faux varieties — buyer beware!

Drinks With “Servings of Fruits and Vegetables”
When it comes to food, if it sounds too good to be true, it is! While slurping your produce may sound like a good idea, you’ll be missing out on important nutrients like fiber and numerous vitamins.  To make matter worse, these beverages are often loaded with added sugars, jacking up the calorie count. Opt for a small portion of 100 percent fruit juice for the occasional sip, but real fruits and veggies are the way to eat your daily dose.  10 ways to add more vegetables to your diet >>

Frozen Diet Entrees
While you are promised a wholesome meal in a microwave-ready tray (doesn’t that just seem sketchy already?), you’re usually getting vastly processed ingredients and an excessive amount of sodium. Check the laundry list of unpronounceable ingredients – it’s about as far from wholesome as you can get.

Breakfast Cereals Labeled “Whole-Grain”
Even sugary kids cereals come plastered with seals of approval and check marks proclaiming they are made with whole grains. Most of them average less than one gram of fiber and 3 teaspoons of added sugar per cup — and who eats just a cup?! Check out our picks for the best cereals options and always read the side panels on boxes for the real nutrient facts.

Fat-Free Cheese
Fat-free versions of cheeses like American, cheddar and mozzarella contain more chemicals and stabilizers than cheese – not exactly a healthier option. They also contain double the sodium to make up for the lack of flavor. Stick to low-fat and part-skim cheeses or smaller portions of flavorful full-fat cheese to get all the flavor while keeping the calories and fat in check.

Snack Mixes
We’ve given you tips to make your own trail mix. Keep ingredients simple and portions modest and you can’t go wrong. Problem is, many of the pre-made mixes come chocked full of high calorie ingredients like yogurt-covered this, chocolate-dipped that, and fried bits of who knows what?!  Keep your eye on those ingredient lists to make the smartest choice.

Baked & Fat Free Chips
Baked chips certainly sound better for you. While they are lower in fat, they have more sodium, sugar, and almost as many calories as the regular version. The fat free types may be even worse thanks to the indigestible additive Olestra. We did manage to find some decent baked varieties in our recent taste test – see how your favorite fared.

Chicken Sausage
Chicken seems like the obvious choice over pork and beef sausages, but the lower fat content of chicken means that sausages need lots of extras like sodium and sugar to compete in the flavor department. Pay close attention to the ingredients; ones marked “fully cooked” tend to be the worst offenders. Fresh (raw) chicken sausages take longer to cook, but the improved nutrition facts are well worth it.

TELL US: What “healthy” foods are you suspicious of?

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »

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Comments (129)

  1. @activzrick says:

    Nothing is as good as fresh produce but Whole9 is from real freeze dried fruits & veggies no synthetics, no refined sugars, nothing pasturized, 100 calories. It also contains 11 strains of proboitics. It's good for people on the go!

  2. Iamme says:

    Stupid ideas about the cereal and baked products. You all have no clue what you r talking about. Idiot tasters that have no idea how to judge food products or tell what is nutritious.

  3. Cabthirteen says:

    Hey active the reason why you loose the fiber and also the vitamins in the fruit/vegi drinks is due to the removal of the skin or peel and mostly due to the paturization. Pretty much a scam across the board. There same goes for pretty much if not all of your "daily vitamins". Just freaking eat some fruit and vegetables!

  4. Chris says:

    All I can say is WOW! I was doing the "healthy" frozen entrees, and chicken sausage. What about turkey sausage, is that just as bad?

    • danawhite says:

      Hi Chris –
      It really depends on the particular brand of sausage. Not all chicken and turkey sausages are as high in sodium and fat as the beef and pork varieties. You'll have to check labels to know for sure. Thanks for your comment.

  5. Halex A says:

    Preach it. Life is hard enough, don't take away my fruit/veggie juice. Or if you do, offer an equally quick (and affordable) alternative. Not all of us have Ina Garten's budget…

    • laura says:

      I'll preach this – nothing is as costly as bad health. No work ….no money, in most cases not to mention the cost of the medical "care" and the pain and suffering. Cutting corners on your food is penny wise and pound foolish. No one is taking away anything from you but you might want to give it some thought. How about a bit of lemon or lime in some good water for a drink? The brand "Hint" is nothing more than water with fresh fruit soaked in it (not squeezed or anything – just dropped in). That would save you a whole lot of money to spend on other better choices.

  6. Rodney says:

    what do you recommend for people who work in a call center environment?

    • Michelle says:

      I work in a call center and pack lunch and dinner everyday. I also pack healthy snacks like cut fruit, light yogurt, vegetables with hummus to avoid temptations like the everpresent doughnuts,cupcakes and candy. For lunch I make a chef salad with plenty of protien and low fat dressing and for dinner I take leftovers from the days I'm home to cook or I made a sandwich on whole wheat or those thin deli rolls. I like that if I eat only what I bring, I'm in contol of my total calories and I'm not hungry. A small icepack keeps it fresh

  7. Heather S. says:

    I can't drink or eat anything that is sugar free and has Phenylketonurics (- Contains Phenylalanine). I ate a bunch of sugar free life savers once that had this in it and I felt very sick, was doubled over with very painful stomach cramps and pain for over 4 hours. I now notice the difference in my body when I eat or drink anything with this product in it. Watch even lemonade that has only 15 calories in the refrigerated juice section, diet sodas and a multitude of other products that are considered diet or sugar free foods.

    • bsb says:

      When eating sugar-free be careful of the sugar alcohols – – over load of these may have caused the symptoms you explained not necessarily the phenylalanine… some people are more sensitive to sugar alcohols than others. By the way – Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid and phenylketonuria is an inherited metabolic disorder (which usually is tested for at birth…at least it is (was) tested for in Pennsylvania at one time not sure if it still is)

  8. Pepper says:

    prepared dinners although high in sodium did help me get control of my over eating and learn real portion control, after about a year, i grew confident enough to cook for myself again, sticking with whole foods. "cooking only on the weekends" and portioning and freezing a week of dinners; saves money, time and i know im eating well

  9. Barb says:

    Oh! Those chicken sausages that everyone thinks are so healthy are also stuffed in lamb's intestines! Sorry, that just grosses me out. I read labels, and as soon as I saw that, I put it down.

  10. Valarie says:

    Thank you for this info! I especially appreciate the "faux fiber" link!
    Also, not to start any sort of quarrel, but as Laura stated in her earlier post, nothing is as costly as being unhealthy! I have two jobs averaging over 65 hours per week and a home life to tend to, but I STILL manage to find time to COOK, eat healthy foods, and avoid eating processed, sodium-filled dinners. Sure it may be difficult at times, but when there's a will there's a way. So let's find a will instead of making excuses!

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