Ever wonder why you still can’t lose the weight even when you’re trying to eat healthier? It might be because some so-called health foods are not what they seem. Unhealthy statistics like high sugar, salt, and calories contents are hidden under claims like “low fat” or “fat free.” If you really want to eat healthier, it’s important to check the nutritional facts on the items you’re purchasing and steer clear of excesses.
1) Foods labeled “Fat Free”: “Non-fat” foods aren’t health foods; gummy worms are non-fat, but they’re certainly not healthy. Fat-free foods like fruits and vegetables are good for you because of their nutritional value – not because they’re “fat-free.” You should also consider calories, sodium, fiber, and vitamins.
2) “Organic” Products: The “organic” label means that the food you’re purchasing is preservative and pesticide free, however the nutritional facts should garner the same concern as any other food. Organic potato chips are still potato chips.
3) Prepared Salads: Salads aren’t inherently healthy. Tuna salads can be loaded with fat and calories because of the mayo. Salad dressings can also take you over the top; the prepared salads at fast food restaurants are often worse for you than the burgers.
4) Frozen Diet Meals: Lean Cuisine and Weight Watcher frozen entrees are pretty low calories, but with most of their meals containing over 600mg of sodium in their very small portions, they’re not the best option. Try having an egg white omelet instead.
5) Packaged Turkey Breast: Turkey itself is an excellent source of lean protein, but packaged turkey can be loaded with sodium, with some brands containing nearly 1/3rd of the recommended daily intake. A good tip is to find a brand with less than 350mg of sodium per 2-oz. serving.
6) Frozen Veggies with Sauce: Like with prepared salads, frozen veggies that have any kind of sauce in them are something to watch out for. It’s common sense to know that “brussels sprouts in butter sauce” are not going to be as healthful as plain veggies.
7) Reduced Fat Peanut Butter: Regular and reduced-fat peanut butter contain about the same amount of calories, but the reduced-fat variety has more sugar. The fat reduction in this case is also not beneficial – regular peanut butter is a natural source of the “good” monounsaturated fats.
8) Olive Oil: Olive Oil is a good type of oil, but it’s still oil. Dipping bread into it is usually worse than putting on a small dab of butter, since the bread will soak up a great deal more oil than is healthful. Each tablespoon contains 120 calories and 14 grams of fat.
9) Granola / Granola Bars: Granola cereals often lots of saturated fats, coconut oil, sugar, and nuts – their bar form is even worse, jam-packed with sugar. A cereal like Fiber One is a better alternative to average granola, leaving you full with fewer calories.
10) Protein / Energy Bars: Most protein bars are high in calories, fat, high fructose corn syrup, and added sugar. The meal-replacement varieties are especially of concern, given their high calorie content despite their very small, unsatisfying size.
11) Pretzels / Rice Cakes: Pretzels and rice cakes aren’t unhealthy, but they provide almost zero nutritional value, and are usually flavored with sugars and salts that will only make you hungrier.
12) Smoothies / Tea Drinks / Sports Drinks: A smoothie can be healthy, but chain stores and coffee bars typically serve smoothies in large serving sizes with added sugars, ice cream, or sherberts, which can rack up a lot of calories. Similarly, tea drinks and sports drinks can contain enough sugar to rival sodas, and don’t have that many healthful benefits.
13) Frozen Yogurts: Some yogurts are good for you, containing nutrients and cultures that are beneficial for the intestines and immune system, but other yogurts have the same amount of fat and calories as a reduced-fat ice cream, in addition to lacking the useful live and active cultures.
14) Muffins (Fat-Free, Sugar-Free, or Bran): Many store-bought muffins are merely cakes in disguise. Even fat-free or sugar-free varieties can have around 600 calories! Bran muffins aren’t excluded either, as they can can be very dense, large, and high in calories and sodium.
15) Sushi / Tuna: Tuna sashimi is healthy. Loading tuna into a mayonnaise heavy tuna salad or wrapping it into a thick roll with battered shrimp is not. The addition of cream cheese, avocado, mayo, and other unhealthy additives can turn a bento box into a very unhealthy meal.
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Photo credits: Delish, Cooking Light, McCormick, Scientific American, My Kitchen Addiction, My Recipes, and Foodbeam