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.
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 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.
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 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 »