There are so many foods that claim and appear to be healthy. Yet these “smart choices” aren’t everything they claim. Here are the top 10 offenders that might be keeping you from shedding those pounds.
Danger lurks in the packaged mix in the form of excess sugar, oils, and preservatives. Of course, nuts are packed with heart-healthy fats. Plain, natural mixes of unsalted nuts and unsweetened dried fruits can make for a good, high-energy snack.
The problem is, trail mixes have taken a few extra liberties in their ingredient lists. Many are now loaded with extra salty nuts, deep-fried banana crisps, and chocolate. This transforms the so-called “healthy” snack into a calorie-heavy dessert. Since a small handful easily contains 300-plus calories, the trail mix may not be the ideal snack option for those looking to lose weight.
So light and airy – rice crackers are the ultimate diet snack. Sure, they are low in calories, but they are “empty” calories. If you look at the ingredient label, you’ll see a whole lot of nothing. There is no fat, no fiber, minimal vitamins and minerals, and maybe 1 gram of protein. These are all important nutrients that improve satiety and help keep your mind off snacking.
The simple carbohydrates in organic rice cakes, on the other hand, actually spike food cravings. Further, the new flavored varieties have the added downside of having sugar and salt in them. While fine as a treat in moderation, these aren’t really giving your body much nutrition.
Fast Food Salad
Before you applaud yourself for choosing a salad over a burger, take a closer look at the ingredients. Salad toppings like croutons, nuts, and salad dressings can quickly turn a healthy salad into a calorie bomb.
McDonald’s California Cobb Salad with Crispy Chicken and ranch dressing total a whopping 670 calories and 53 grams of fat! This is only 130 calories less than a Big Mac and small fries. So be sure to research calorie counts before you dine!
Granola seems harmless but is far from being a breakfast champion. No matter how you eat it – whether as cereal, in a bar, or as part of your yogurt parfait – there is fat, sugar, and calories lurking in granola. One cup contains up to 560 calories and 28 grams of fat – and that’s before you add milk!
Stick to portion sizes? Sure, but they are usually a skimpy ¼ cup, just enough as a topping on fruit or yogurt.
Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter
One of the biggest benefits of peanut butter is that it is a natural source of the “good” monounsaturated fats. When you take that out, what do you have left? Tons of sugar and the same amount of calories, but empty. Typically whenever you see reduced fat in any product, it means that the fat was replaced with sugar or salt.
Stick to the real thing. But remember, two large spoonfuls can pack almost as many calories and fat as a Snickers bar! So enjoy it in moderation.
Smoothies can be real tricksters when it comes to staying on track. Just because they’re packed with whole fruits doesn’t automatically make them a healthy option. You can easily fit in a meal’s worth of calories in a single smoothie without even realizing it. The Starbucks – Strawberry Banana Smoothie contains 300 calories.
What’s more, research shows that if you take the same energy as a liquid instead of a solid, you will consume more calories later because the liquefied energy doesn’t satisfy your appetite as well as solid food.
Veggie chips must be healthy because they are made from veggies, right? Not so fast. Yes, veggie chips are made from real vegetables, but they aren’t much healthier than regular potato chips. Most of the time, veggie chips are just potatoes with veggie flavoring or puree.
Further, the essential vitamins such as A and C that are found in vegetables are lost in the processing of these chips, so they don’t offer much in the way of nutrition. Most of these chips are high in fat, calories, and sodium. An ounce of veggie chips has 150 calories and 9 or 10 grams of fat per handful — the same as potato chips!
You are better off making your own veggie “chips” at home. Try chopping kale and toss it with a small amount of olive oil and sea salt, pop it in the oven and bake until crispy.
Dried apricots or raisins may seem like the perfect way to satisfy your sweet tooth. But the added sugar that condensed fruit contains can really up the calorie count. There are about 60 calories in a cup of grapes, and over 400 in a cup of raisins. Snack wisely!
Vegetables are great, but let’s face it, they don’t taste that great on their own. That’s why many of us use dressings to add more flavor to our salads. Yes, salad dressing. You never suspected a thing, did you?
Many commercial salad dressings are made with a myriad of preservatives, fake flavors, colors, fats, salts, and sugars. Further, most people tend to ignore their salad dressings reported serving size, which is usually only two tablespoons! So be careful what and how much you’re drizzling on top of your greens.
Praise the marketing geniuses who managed to sell foods that contain more sugar and calories than certain candy bars as “healthy.” Clif’s White Chocolate Macadamia Nut bar, for example, has more calories (26) than a Snickers bar. Many energy bars are filled with high fructose corn syrup, added sugar, and artery-clogging saturated fat.
The Food and Drug Administration has recently asked the makers of KIND bars to remove the word “healthy” on some of their products. The KIND Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut bar, for instance, contains 5g of saturated fat per 40g ( definitely exceeds the 1g of saturated fat per 40g of food restriction). So if you need a snack, you’re much better off having an apple and a handful of almonds instead!
The most powerful tool for nutrition is knowledge of what you’re eating
What food surprised you the most? Do you know any other foods that don’t deserve their “healthy” label? Tell us about it below!