Discerning healthy foods that are actually bad for you is easy — just stay away from high-fat, high-calorie, and highly processed foods, right?
If only it were that simple.
Even when you try to make smart choices, many so-called health foods are nothing more than a gimmick. Food manufacturers and marketers make it that way to earn your dollars.
Restaurants and grocery stores are chock full of foods claiming to be “healthy,” but that are actually bad for you. Sometimes just as bad as the junk foods you’ve given up!
Here are 8 “healthy” foods that aren’t actually healthy:
Sure, they’re full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, but they’re also full of sugar. A store-bought fruit juice can contain more than 30 grams of sugar per serving! Something else to consider: One of the reasons fruit and vegetables are so good for you is that they’re full of fiber, which juicing strips out.
It’s easy to see a yogurt parfait as the healthy option when you’re at the breakfast counter looking at rows of doughnuts and pastries. And yes, yogurt delivers friendly gut bacteria that are good for digestion. But, when you start adding sweetened fruit and granola it can turn into a sugar bomb. Stick to plain and lightly sweetened yogurt to get those healthy probiotics without all the extra calories! And it’s probably best to stay away from frozen yogurt altogether: it can contain as much sugar as ice cream, and doesn’t offer enough probiotics to be beneficial.
What’s not to love about a snack that looks and tastes like dessert but is full of antioxidants and fiber? You’ve probably guessed it: the sugar. The acai bowls you get in restaurants pack more than 60 grams of sugar per serving — especially if they’re they’re drizzled with chocolate or other decadent toppings — and hundreds of calories. For an acai bowl that’s actually healthy, make it at home, where you have more control over the sugar content and portion size.
Granola and trail mixes
One cup of crunchy granola contains more than 400 calories, 20 grams of fat, and 20 grams of sugar (which is why you don’t want it topping your yogurt!), and many store-bought trail mixes include chocolate and other flavorings that boost their sugar and sodium content. For a healthy snack, make your own trail mix at home using your favorite nuts and seeds (try almonds, Brazil nuts, and pumpkin seeds), unsweetened coconut flakes, and goji berries.
A snack that tastes like potato chips but is actually made with healthy vegetables sounds too good to be true — because it is! Most veggie chips are really just potato chips with a little vegetable powder added in for coloring, with just as much fat as the original. When buying veggie chips, make sure vegetables are the first item listed in the ingredients, and while you’re there check the calorie, fat, and sodium contents. For veggie chips that are actually healthy, make them at home by thinly slicing sweet potatoes, carrots, and beets, drizzling them with olive oil, and baking them for 20 minutes at 425 degrees.
Most foods that claim to be made from whole wheat really aren’t — the grain has been ground up into very fine flour, which can give it a similar glycemic index to white bread. But even true whole wheat can cause inflammation and increase cholesterol, studies have shown. When it comes to whole-grain, high-fiber cereals, you’ll often find they have as much sugar and calories as the sweet stuff you ate as a kid. Check the label to make sure your cereal has less than 10 grams of sugar and at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. And one more thing: Stay away from foods that are advertised as “multigrain.” That only means they contain multiple grains — it says nothing about how refined they are.
Think bread is the only thing unhealthy about a sandwich? Think again. Most deli meat — turkey, salami, roast beef — is often highly processed. It contains loads of nitrates, sodium, and saturated fat, which are bad for your cardiovascular health. Try to stick to organic animal proteins like chicken or turkey breast.
A salad may be healthier choice for lunch than a sandwich, but that doesn’t mean it’s actually healthy. The salads that are premade in stores or on restaurant menus can contain more than 1,000 calories and tons of sodium, if they include cheese, meat, and croutons. Even low-fat dressing can be bad for you. The fat is often replaced with more sugar, salt, and high-fructose corn syrup. For a healthy salad, make it at home and dress it with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and fresh herbs.
As you can see, discerning healthy foods that are actually bad for you isn’t really simple at all. It requires vigilant checking of food labels and cooking at home as much as possible. It’s well worth the effort!
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