Fat free. Sugar free. While these phrases on food labels may sound healthy, they can be quite deceiving. Before you purchase your next “healthy” food item, make sure you’re well informed on how certain so-called healthy foods are actually bad for your health.
1. Sugar-Free Cookies
This sounds like a dream come true for dieters and diabetics out there, but don’t be fooled. Sugar-free simply means added fat (just like fat-free usually means added sugar). These sugar-free cookies just don’t taste as good as regular cookies, but they contain almost as much fat. So, you might as well indulge in the real thing. For a healthier option, Fitness Magazine suggests choosing graham crackers which have a lot less sugar than packaged cookies.
2. Fruit Smoothies
Think a Jamba Juice smoothie for lunch is a healthy meal? Think again. Most fruit smoothies contain added sugar and high fructose corn syrup, which might even make a milkshake an equally “nutritious” choice. Instead, choose a 100% juice smoothie which is made with plain yogurt (instead of ice cream or sherbert) and contains half the calories and much less sugar, but preserves all of the vitamins and antioxidants that fruit smoothies should contain.
3. Ground Turkey
When people think turkey, they think lean and healthy. But, ground turkey could be every bit as fatty and caloric as beef, or shockingly, even more so. Instead, opt for extra lean turkey, lean ground beef, or sirloin (one of the leanest cuts of meat available) which has enough protein to make you feel fuller longer.
Some of you may enjoy the taste of granola and some of you eat it just because you think it’s healthy. Either way, do not be fooled. Granola is basically oats sticking together with the use of high fructose corn syrup, barley malt and honey. All of these ingredients raise blood sugar levels. According to Fitness Magazine, one cup of granola could contain as much as 560 calories and 28 grams of fat (before you add the milk). For those granola lovers out there that don’t want to sacrifice the crunchy sweet taste, try a low-calorie, whole grain cereal instead. As for those granola bars you pack in the kids’ lunches every day, they actually contain very little fiber, a lot of processed carbs and a ton of sugar. Pack freshly sliced fruit instead.
5. Flavored Yogurt
Yogurt is a great diet-friendly snack, just make sure it’s not flavored. Plain yogurt naturally contains sugar, but flavored yogurt adds more. So, stick with plain yogurt for breakfast or as a snack. To sweeten it up a bit, try a teaspoon of honey or just add fresh berries. Want an even healthier option? Fitness Magazine suggests fat-free Greek yogurt which is lower in sugar than plain yogurt and contains more protein to keep you satisfied longer.
6. Egg-White Omelette
Don’t be too scared of egg yolks. They contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for healthy eyes. Egg yolks are also an important source of phosphatidylcholine, a nutrient that keeps your brain healthy. As long as you don’t have high cholesterol, it’s ok to keep that nutritious yolk in your breakfast. Moderation is key.
7. Rice Cakes
Rice cakes taste so bland that they must be good for you, right? Wrong. Even though they’re low in fat and cholesterol, they have no nutritional value – unless you consider sodium nutritious. And flavored rice cakes only add fat, so stay away from those please. To add more nutrition to your rice cake, top it with hummus and veggies.