It’s easy to think you’re making a healthy choice when you reach for something labeled “low-fat,” “natural,” or “organic.” Unfortunately, it isn’t always true. Many of these seemingly healthy foods contain unhealthy ingredients. This article exposes foods you may have deemed healthy additions to your diet but are best avoided or consumed in moderation.
Many people think multigrain bread is a healthier option than white bread. However, some varieties contain refined flour, which is no better than plain white flour. To ensure you’re getting the nutritional benefits of whole grains, look for a label reading “100 percent whole grain” or “whole wheat.”
Instant oatmeal is often marketed as a healthy, on-the-go breakfast option. But don’t be fooled; these pre-packaged packets of oats are usually loaded with added sugar or artificial sweeteners and preservatives. Opt for steel-cut oats instead; they take longer to cook, but you’ll get the full nutritional benefit of natural oats in each bowl.
Energy bars can be a great snack on the go, but not all are created equally. Many contain added sugars and high fructose corn syrup, which can do more harm than good. Look for bars with fewer ingredients and plenty of fiber to ensure you’ll get the most out of your snack.
Dried fruit is a great way to get your daily recommended serving of fruit, but watch out for varieties with added sugar or preservatives. Opt for fresh fruits if you want the fruit’s full nutritional benefits without any unhealthy extras.
Fruit smoothies are a tasty way to get your daily dose of vitamins and minerals, but many pre-made smoothies contain more sugar than a can of soda. Stick to drinking smoothies made with fresh fruit and low-fat dairy, or check the label for added sugars if you must buy pre-made smoothies.
Fruit juice has long been touted as a nutritious alternative to sugary drinks, but beware: even fruit juices labeled 100 percent sometimes contain a lot of sugar without the fiber that helps you digest it. Also, most fruit juice is pasteurized, meaning its nutritional value has been lost during heating. If you must drink juice, look for varieties labeled “not from concentrate,” but for the healthiest choice, reach for fresh fruit.
Protein shakes are popular among gym-goers and athletes, but not all protein shakes are healthy. Many of these drinks contain artificial flavors and added sugar or sweeteners. Check the label before buying; you want a shake with plenty of natural protein from sources like eggs, nuts, or yogurt.
Granola is marketed as a healthy breakfast option, but some varieties are high in sugar and calories. To ensure you get the benefits of whole grains and nuts from your granola, look for low-sugar varieties with plenty of fiber and no added preservatives or artificial sweeteners.
Salads are a great way to get your daily serving of vegetables, but many popular salad dressings contain unhealthy ingredients like sugar and trans fats. Choose dressings made with olive oil, vinegar, or homemade vinaigrettes for a healthy alternative.
Frozen meals are marketed as an easy way to eat healthy on busy weeknights, but you should read the label first. Many frozen dinners contain unhealthy additives like sodium, trans fats, artificial colors, and preservatives. If you must opt for a frozen meal, take the time to read the labels and look for healthier options with more natural ingredients.
Yogurt parfaits are often perceived as a healthier breakfast option than other desserts but watch out for added sugars and artificial flavors. Choose plain yogurt instead of pre-packaged parfaits for a healthy morning meal. Add some fresh fruit or nuts for flavor and crunch.
Veggie burgers are a great alternative to traditional beef patties if you want a more sustainable and healthy option. However, many store-bought veggie burgers contain trans fats, sodium, and other unhealthy additives. Choose brands with fewer ingredients and pay closer attention to nutrition labels for the healthiest burger.
Veggie chips may seem like a healthier alternative to regular potato chips, but many brands contain unhealthy oils and sodium. Stick to baked chips and check the nutrition label for ingredients you recognize. If it includes more than five ingredients or you can’t pronounce them, opt for another snack that won’t hurt your waistline.
Plant-based Milk Alternatives
Plant-based milk alternatives, such as almond and soy milk, have become popular in recent years. While these may be healthier than cow’s milk, not all are healthy. Look for unsweetened varieties with fewer ingredients to ensure you get the most nutritional benefits from your plant-based alternative.
Sports drinks are often marketed to athletes as a healthy, hydrating alternative to soda and other sugary drinks for refueling after a workout. However, these drinks contain added sugars and artificial sweeteners, which aren’t necessarily healthier. Choose water or an electrolyte-rich drink like coconut water for the best hydration.
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This article was produced on Inspired by Insiders.