There are foods that are very healthy and give your body huge health boosting benefits: foods full of antioxidants, packed with vitamins and minerals, and with specific benefits to the heart, brain, or skin. These foods are written about in news media, featured in cookbooks and recommended for good health. But hidden among them are foods that seem to be healthy, and are marketed just as heavily as those that have major health benefits . . . but they may be bringing down your diet. The problem? These foods have been promoted as healthy for so long that everyone just accepts it as fact, but don’t be fooled. You want to think carefully before putting these 5 unhealthy “healthy” foods on your plate.
1. Premade salads. Salad is healthy, right? It is if it’s not loaded with cheese, full fat dressing, bacon, ham, and all of the other ingredients that are piled onto those convenient “salads on-the-go.” Only choose this option if it mostly consists of vegetables and lean protein. Also, stay away from ready-made tuna, chicken or other salads of this type, since the mayonnaise in them will only leave you with a boatload of fat and calories.
2. Cereal. The packaging makes cereal sound like the healthiest food around. Fiber! Vitamins! Low fat! Improves heart health! What could be healthier? Actually, many things, since cereal is packed with synthetic vitamins and minerals, since the real ones were destroyed during processing. Read cereal labels carefully to make sure you know what’s really going in your bowl.
3. Anything that’s marketed as “Light,” “Reduced sugar or sugar free,” or “Reduced fat.” It’s not that these foods are bad for you, but you should really scrutinize the ingredients list before purchasing. In order to create lighter, less sugary versions of their foods that still taste the same, companies often add in ingredients such as artificial sweeteners, partially hydrogenated oils, and salt to compensate. Choosing a less processed food is better for your health, or using a recipe to create a similar food at home can give you better control over what goes into your meal.
4. “Healthy” energy bars, granola bars, or granola. This is a healthy eating staple . . . or so we’ve been told. However, much of what’s sold is loaded with fat, calories and sugar. Many energy bars are just sugary candy bars with vitamins added in. Granola often has trans fat, and if you read the recommended serving, it’s usually only a quarter cup, hardly enough to satisfy.
5. Light peanut butter. It seems like a great idea, all the goodness of peanut butter with less fat and calories. But that’s actually not true. Often the reduced fat versions still have plenty of calories, and many companies add in sugar and salt to make it still taste good. You’re better off with an all natural version because you’ll only have the necessary ingredients, with nothing added.