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Foods That Sound Healthy, But Are Not!

Foods That Sound Healthy, But Are Not!

Sometimes when we try to make healthy choices can end up backfiring us in unexpected ways. Fat free or low-fat can come at the price of sacrificing nutrients, and gluten-free foods can contain just as many calories, sugars and fats as their full-gluten counterparts – if not more! Here are seemingly-healthy foods that are not actually healthy choices. You might be surprised to find that some of them are foods that you eat on a daily basis.

Just because a baked good is vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Vegan products can pack just as many calories, fat and sugar, as traditional ones. When people see natural ingredients such as agave nectar, evaporated cane juice, coconut oil and vegan chocolate chips, they think that these ingredients are healthier than traditional sugar, dairy and flour. Here is a scary fact commercially made vegan chocolate frosted cupcakes contain 350 calories, 18 grams of sugar and 22 grams of fat per serving!

Tomato-based pasta sauce is rich in vitamins A and C and delivers at least a serving of vegetables and provides nearly 85% of dietary lycopene, which protects against heart disease and some cancers. But commercially-available brands are filled with sugar, high fructose corn syrup and sodium. In order to extend shelf life and taste, jarred sauces are packed with sodium and ascorbic acid. Some of your favorite pasta toppers pack over 900 mg of sodium per 1-cup serving which is more than a third of daily sodium intake. If you want to gain the nutritional benefits of the tomato sauce, make your own with fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil and a touch of virgin olive oil.

Don’t think that anything with the word salad is going to be healthy. Prepared chicken, tuna and shrimp salads are often contain high amounts of hidden fats and calories due to their high mayonnaise and oil content. If you are ordering take-out, go for prepared salads made with low-fat mayonnaise, and pay attention to the portion sizes. If you are afraid of the fat in readymade salads Make your own version at home by adding condiments such as Dijon mustard and fresh herbs.

Reduced-fat peanut butter is not necessarily a healthier version of  the regular peanut butter. Although they both contain the same amount of calories, but the reduced fat version has a lot more sugar. Some may ask, isn’t it healthy to cut out some fat in your diet? Not in this case since regular peanut butter is a natural source of the good fats. Look for a natural peanut butter with an ingredient list that contains no added oils, sugar, or trans fats. Better yet, make your own nut butter at home.

Energy bars are considered to be the perfect pre-workout snack, right? Not so fast. Many of them are filled with high fructose corn syrup, saturated fat, added sugar and synthetic ingredients we can’t pronounce. Their calorie content can reach more than 350 calories. If you need an energy bar between work and the gym, go for a version made with nuts, dried fruit, nuts and whole grains. Avoid chocolate-coated bars, which have the tendency to be higher in sugar, calories and fat

Most smoothie chains and coffee bars start out with healthy ingredients which begin with a blended fruit, low fat dairy and yogurt. The problem with this seemingly-healthy option is the large serving sizes with added sugar, ice cream, and flavored syrups.The resulting contains a huge amount of fat and sugar that can reach anywhere from 500-600 calories.

It’s necessary to remind ourselves that fat-free does not mean calorie-free. Fat free foods often lack flavor that is why food companies, pour in other ingredients such as added sugar, thickeners, and sodium to give them more tastiness. When buying packaged foods always check the nutrition labels and remember when it comes to fat, not all sources are equal. “Good” fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats improve blood cholesterol and increase satiety. You need to check the overall composition of a food not only the fat content and compare in total calories, fiber, sodium, vitamins and minerals.

If you’re going for an easy walk or doing some light housework, skip the sports drinks. Although most sports drinks do contain important electrolytes important for those who are doing intense workouts, you don’t need a sports drink to fuel light activity because many sports drinks contain 125 calories and around 15 grams of sugar per bottle. Spare yourself the extra calories and go for plain water to keep you hydrated.

Although granola contains nutritious ingredients such as oats, dried fruit, nuts and seeds. The problem is that most of the whole grain goodness is coated in sugar, honey, and molasses and then baked in oil to deliver the crunchy texture. A traditional 1-cup of granola can pack nearly 600 calories and 20 grams of sugar before the addition of milk or yogurt and the gourmet ingredients such as coconut, chocolate, and roasted almonds, some commercial brands deliver as much as 25 grams of fat per serving! If you can’t live without your favorite granola clusters, try to sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of granola on top of hot oatmeal or Greek yogurt to give it an added crunch.

Gluten-free means good-for-you, right? Wrong! Gluten-free baked goods are often high with refined grains, sugar and fat and other than removing gluten from the recipe, they don’t cut down the calories, sugar or fat. The best thing to do is to stick with natural gluten-free foods like fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, nuts, and nonfat dairy products. Whenever buying gluten-free baked goods read the labels and avoid those that are rich in fats and sugars.

Diet soda is calorie-free, but there is no evidence that drinking diet soda will help you lose weight. In fact, drinking diet soda increases your cravings for sweets and trips up your body’s natural mechanisms that help control your hunger and appetite.

12.Baked Chips
If you go around in the supermarket snack aisle to make sure your potato chip choice is baked not fried, you may be surprised that the fried chips may actually be a better choice. Here’s why, while baked chips have less fat content but they have just 20 fewer calories compared to their fried full-fat counterparts. And since fat is filling, you might eat more calories while enjoying baked chips because they provide a higher carbohydrate to fat ratio than fried potato chips. When we think we are making a healthier choice, we often eat larger servings.

Christelle Bedrossian
Beirut, Lebanon



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Dietitian Christelle Bedrossian