Smoothies are a quick, easy way of meeting your daily vitamin count. Drink one of these tasty treats for breakfast and you’re set for the day… Or are you? Drinking your quota of nutrients can lower your intake of fiber in comparison to eating the fruits or veggies raw – lowering their benefits. Smoothies also contain heaps of hidden sugars, especially when shop-bought.
Swapping out potato chips for vegetable chips seems like a health-boosting trick, but it’s not quite the case. Beetroot, carrot, and parsnip-based snacks may all sound healthy, but their nutritional content is surprisingly low – mainly due to the process of turning them into a chip-shaped treat. In some cases, vegetable chips have more fat content than their potato counterparts.
Canned foods seem like a staple item that should be included in your cupboard – after all, they last much longer than fresh veggies. Although canned vegetables provide a big chunk of those sought-after nutrients, they come with a steep incline in sodium content. Excessive consumption of salt can lead to heart problems and high blood pressure, so it’s best to go fresh.
Although granola may seem like a healthy, delicious snack – particularly when paired with fresh fruits – the breakfast cereal isn’t as good for you as you may first believe. High in excess sugar from dried fruit and the hefty fat content that comes with nuts, granola can be healthy – but only if you eat it in moderation.
Despite being recommended by health columns across the web, not all yogurts are healthy. Many are full of added sugars or artificial sweeteners that can come at a detriment to your health. Be careful when picking out which yogurt to snack on – ones with added biscuits or flavors are a no-go if you’re seeking a healthier lifestyle.
Protein bars promise a snack packed with body-boosting nutrients. While they do have significant amounts of protein and calcium, these handy bars can also be very high in calories and sugar – meaning that you could gain weight if you snack on them too frequently. Read the label, and opt for bars with little to no added sugar.
Sports drinks are a way for athletes to replenish their bodies with nutrients after an intense workout. While it’s true that these beverages do help vitalize and rehydrate the body, they’re also packed with tonnes of hidden unhealthy ingredients. Sports drinks are often high in sugar, artificial colors, and caffeine, so it’s best to stick to water.
Gluten-free products can be heavily processed and high in sugar while lacking in the nutrients, minerals, and vitamins that your body needs. For those with allergies and intolerances, gluten-free food is the way to go. For everybody else, it’s best to stick to your original diet.
Although baked beans count as one of your five a day, they’re surprisingly unhealthy. While they may be a decent source of protein and fiber, they’re also high in sugar and salt. One tin accounts for 20% of your daily sugar intake, and 40% of your recommended allowance of salt.
Flatbreads may seem like a calorie-conscious choice for a lighter lunch, but there’s a high chance that just one of these doughs is higher in calories than two slices of bread. Flavored flatbreads – boasting added spinach or tomato – have little to no nutritional additions, so don’t be fooled. If you want a healthy flatbread, keep it homemade or stick to those made from whole-grain ingredients.
This became the bread of choice for amateur bakers during the pandemic, and to be fair, it is better for you than a standard loaf in many ways. The fermentation of the mother yeast gives you a lot of good pro-biotic nutrients, it’s still however, a loaf of bread packed with carbs that can cause bloating in many people.
Blueberries are undeniably good for you, just maybe not quite as good as you have been led to believe. These were one of the earlier fruits to be marketed as a superfood, as our understanding of antioxidants began to grow around the 90s. Now we understand much more, we know eating too many antioxidant-rich foods is quite damaging for you.
While this commonly used sweetener may be ‘natural’, that doesn’t equate to it being good for you. Agave nectar is 90% fructose, one of the monosaccharides that make up what we call simple sugars. Fructose is required for healthy operation, but science is clear on the negative effects of excess consumption including obesity and insulin issues that can lead to diabetes.
While useful in both the kitchen and your skincare routine, coconut oil is touted to be much healthier than it really is. A meta-analysis from the American Heart Association found that, although it does raise your good cholesterol levels, it also raises the bad ones more so than other oils. Olive oil, rich in monounsaturated fats, is surprisingly healthier.
The fact you can add a spoon to your cereal or tea, spread it on your toast, stir it into sauces or deserts and even take some as an alternative medicine, means you’re probably getting way too much sugar from it. It ideally should be used in small amounts, and at the expense of other sugars in your diet.
Crunchy rock salts are often marketed as being high in minerals and healthier than table salt. While they can taste better and have some minerality, ultimately it is still just salt. The amount you would have to consume to get any benefits would make you dangerously sick! Still, nothing better to top a steak with for your Instagram, though.
This could apply to mangoes, durian, or anything you might only find at alternative grocery stores. It’s not that they’re unhealthy, just that they’re often considered much healthier than your standard apples and oranges, simply because they seem exotic. What’s more important than any singular ‘super’ fruit is a good variety of colors and textures – not the price tag.
An essential condiment all over the East and one of the most potent flavors per teaspoon products on the market, soy sauce does have some nutritional benefits. It has been observed to reduce inflammation and aid in fighting allergies. The issue comes from its astronomical sodium content, with one tablespoon being a third of your daily sodium intake.
While cereal may have begun as a sad bowl of bland, flattened, and toasted corn, the industry has come a long way in making some of the most delicious and soul-crushingly unhealthy ways to start your morning. From cereals aimed at kids to adults, they often refine their grains in a way that strips most of their nutritional value, then coat them with lovely sugar.
Halloumi has become a staple meat replacement for vegetarians and a delightfully squeaky treat for everybody else. Its protein and calcium content are a great way for those who don’t eat meat to replace some of those lost nutrients! However, it’s high in saturated fats and is often coated in more oil when fried, which destroys a lot of its benefits.
This is a complicated one, as it is true they don’t contain any sugars. However, people who opt for diet soft drinks often do so because they have other issues surrounding consumption, and wind up drinking more. Research also suggests that they may alter how the brain responds to sugary food, increasing those desires for sweet treats.
A recurring theme throughout this list will be options that present themselves as low fat, but in making up for the loss of taste pack in a bunch of other, much less healthy stuff. Low-fat dressings replace dairy and fatty oils with sugar, corn syrup, and preservatives to emulate fat’s natural lasting power.
Sadly, there are few ways if any to make bacon healthy, that’s the trade-off humanity made with nature many millennia ago. Turkey bacon is slightly lower in calories than pork bacon, but it’s still a processed and shaped meat, loaded with saturated fat, coloring, and nitrates, which are known to be carcinogenic.
Flavored rice cakes
These have been an abundant low-calorie snack for decades now, and on their own, besides their high sodium and sugar content, they aren’t too bad for you. The problem is the store shelves are stocked with variations like caramel, sweet and salty, and savory. Like all processed foods, these flavorings are full of things you definitely don’t need to eat more of.
You might have seen TikToks or Instagram posts of entire fridge shelves packed with this stuff. While it’s tasty and does contain nutrients not found in water, its sugar content means it really shouldn’t be a regular replacement. One of these every few days is okay, but it’s no substitute for a simple glass of faucet pop.
Spicy tuna roll
Sushi is a great option for a low-fat, high-omega-3 lunch. The fatty fish oil contains anti-inflammatory properties, and rice is an excellent source of fiber and protein. The mayo that runs through a tuna roll, however, doubles the calorie count and adds in cholesterol-producing fats. LDL, or bad cholesterol, is what increase your chances of strokes and heart attacks.
These are the go-to for anyone who regularly hits the gym and doesn’t have the time for meal prep. While they are loaded with protein, obviously, and provide a good energy boost, that energy is coming from the same place it does with normal milkshakes. Sugars, sweeteners, flavorings, and often dairy fats for thickening, all of which can increase unhealthy cravings and cause bloating.
As a corn kernel that’s exploded with radiation, the popcorn itself is super low calorie, and microwaves often don’t remove any more nutritional content than any other cooking method. Store-bought packs though are often loaded with salt as a base, for flavor and preservation, and then topped with any number of mouthwatering, artery-clogging options.
Most people could do with less meat in their diets, and veggie burgers are a simple and easy way to achieve this. Made at home from beans, mushrooms, or any other vegetables, they are excellent sources of nutrition. Pre-made patties fall victim to the same thing as their meaty counterparts, being full of salt, sugar, and flavor enhancers.
It’s a natural assumption to make that milk with less fat in it would be a much healthier option, but there really isn’t much evidence to support this! There has been no link found between full-fat milk and heart disease, for example. The difference between them matters much less than how much you consume.
I can’t believe it’s somehow worse for you than butter! Dairy alternative spreads somehow have to recreate the natural texture of butter, which comes from its fat content. Products like margarine use trans fats, or cheaper sources of high LDL fat like palm oil to achieve this. Not to mention the salt or anything else added for flavor.
Low-fat peanut butter
If you’re eating peanut butter, you might as well reap the benefits of the healthy monosaturated fats that nuts are full of. That’s why it’s such an excellent addition to milkshakes or smoothies and, much like those, low-fat peanut butter strips away those healthy fats and replaces them with extra sugar and salt.
There’s a common misconception that wraps are a healthier alternative to bread for sandwiches. While ordering a wrap instead of a Big Mac is probably better for you, one wholewheat wrap contains about as many calories as two slices of bread and are often much lower in digestion aiding fiber.
Egg white omelet
Eggs fell victim to a horrific public smear campaign during the 90s war on fat and were blamed for all kinds of health issues. This could be why the egg white omelet persists and, while the yolk is where most of the calories are, it’s also where all the good fats and energizing B-12 are. Justice for the egg yolks.
No red sauce you can buy is going to beat the one you make at home, especially since you can control how many fresh veggies and how much fat goes into it. Sadly, we don’t all have the tenacity and patience of an Italian grandmother, which is required to simmer a pot for eight hours. Watch out though – pre-made red sauces are super high in sugar and unsaturated fats.
Fast food salads
There is a combination of factors that go into making these seemingly healthy options absolute calorie bombs. First, the portion sizes and ratios of things like lettuce or spinach to croutons and proteins. Then there’s the dressings and seasonings, both of which add up to them sometimes reaching around 1,000 calories and almost an entire day’s sodium intake.
Plenty of health claims have been made in favor of artificial sweeteners or alternatives, and while it’s true they have fewer calories than sugar, that isn’t the end of the story. Research out of Yale University on the burgeoning science of gut health, suggests that the hormonal responses artificial sweeteners trigger a hunger response in our bodies, making us consume more calories overall.
As mentioned prior, the granola itself isn’t the issue. These are often packaged as breakfast on the go and are indeed very convenient, but they also then include processed dairy, fruit, seed, and nut elements. Overall, you’re getting more of the sugars and bad fats from the bar than any of the benefits of the fresh ingredients.
A sad truth to come to terms with is that whenever a company launches a product that’s a combination of two ingredients that are somewhat healthy in moderation, it’s going to taste great and be bad for you. Yogurt in the fridge doesn’t set! What you’re actually getting is something that’s almost yogurt, but stripped of any of its probiotic benefits.
These seem like a great way to get fiber in your system and boost energy levels in the morning, and homemade ones certainly can be. Any prepackaged muffin will have been made with refined flours that are similar to boxed cake mixes, the fat and sugar are essentially woven through the flour, ensuring a soft, shelf-stable product. They have many times the calories and sugar of any homemade muffin.
Though mostly consumed seasonally, applesauce is used as an alternative sweetener in many homemade shakes, smoothies, cakes, and pies. We don’t question how deliciously sweet it is – we’re already familiar with how sweet apples are! Like with many other shelf-stable products, though, it can be packed with high fructose corn syrup.