As the nutrition and diet trends come and go, there are many seemingly healthy foods that are bad for you, contrary to what you might hear. With all of the confusing information out there, it is hard to even know what to eat anymore! “Eat this, not that!” “Fat makes you fat. Fat makes you skinny!” “Carbs are good. Carbs are bad!” You know how it goes. As a dietitian, I hope to end this confusion and help you understand the truth behind the foods we choose to eat. Here are 8 seemingly healthy foods that are bad for you in actuality!
1. Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter
Reduced-fat peanut and other butters are some of those seemingly healthy foods that are bad for you in reality. Fat is not bad, despite what we are trained to believe. It's the wrong kind of fat that is actually what's bad. The fat that is found in natural, full-fat peanut butter is actually the good, unsaturated fat. The reduced-fat version actually contains more sugar, more unhealthy fat, less of the healthy fats and is also more processed than its full-fat alternative. Stick to natural peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower seed butter or cashew butter when selecting a nut butter instead.
2. Cereals and Granolas
Most prepackaged cereals and granolas are loaded with sugar (in many different, sneaky forms) and are stripped of their original healthy nutrients. When it comes to cereal and granola, stick to either making your own granola or sprucing up regular old oats by adding your own berries, bananas, nuts, natural sweeteners and low-fat yogurt. You will pass up on a lot of added sugar by making this small, delicious swap!
3. Diet Sodas
Diet sodas are full of artificial sweeteners, artificial colors and artificial flavors; instead, stick to water flavored with lemons, limes, cucumbers or sparkling water. Because they are so high in phosphorous, both regular and diet soda can also weaken our bones! Diet soda is no health food, regardless of what you hear!
4. Wraps Vs. Bread
When eating a sandwich, did you know that, in most cases, choosing a wrap instead of bread unfortunately isn't usually a healthier choice? Wraps are usually much higher in calories, ingredients and saturated/trans fat than good, old fashion whole grain bread. Check that ingredient label of your favorite wrap and you might be surprised by what you see.
5. Enriched Pastas
While the concept behind pastas enriched with vitamins and minerals is seemingly positive, enriched pastas are stripped of their original nutrients and then they're added back through processing. The actual. nature-made whole grains provide far more than this highly processed alternative. One thing that isn't added back in this process is the fiber, which is incredibly vital for good health. Any pasta that lists ingredients other than 100% whole grain/wheat (or gluten-free pastas that list anything other than the type of flour used, such as rice or bean) should be limited.
6. Store Bought Smoothies
Store bought smoothies should really be called sugar slushies because there is more sugar in most of these than anything else. Don’t be fooled by the company’s marketing tactics and check the calorie content before placing your order. Many of your favorites may be 500 or more calories in one small cup. Your little snack just turned into a weight-gaining tool! Make your own smoothies by adding greens, fruit, non-dairy milk, flax seeds, peanut butter, etc. and blend away for a healthy day!
7. Fat-Free/Reduced-Fat Salad Dressings
When fat is removed, sugar and salt is added for taste and that's just what happens in fat-free/reduced-fat salad dressings. Also, when you eat fat-soluble vitamins like those found in salad lettuce, your body is unable to digest/absorb these nutrients without a little fat. So what’s the point in eating a salad if you aren’t even able to absorb the nutrients? Make your own salad dressing out of omega-3 rich olive oil, vinegar, crushed garlic, herbs, salt and pepper.
8. Fruit-on-the-Bottom Yogurts
Unfortunately, kids (and adults!) love fruit-on-the-bottom yogurts. The reason these yogurts taste so good is because not only is there healthy yogurt and fruit in the cup - but also sugar, and lots of it! By making your own fruit and yogurt parfait, adding blueberries, strawberries and bananas to 0% fat Greek/regular yogurt, you will be saving on calories without sacrificing taste. Top it off with some shaved almonds to add in a little bit of healthy fat too!
Nutrition doesn't have to be complicated; stick with whole, real foods and you will do wonders for your health! With all of the conflicting messages out there, find reputable sources and people you can trust before you go taking advice from any Joe Schmo selling his opinions! What other foods are out there that are seemingly healthy but really aren't at all?