Nutrition Curator
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LISTS TO LIVE BY: 10 foods that aren't as healthy as you may think

Is it just me, or does it seem like every other item in the supermarket has some sort of health claim on it? The fact of the matter is, food-marketing companies have cottoned on to the fact that consumers want to buy food that is good for them…but I have some news:

  1. A lot of the foods with health claims aren’t as good for you as you might think, and
  2. A lot of the opinions you have about food are very likely based on those exact health claims rather than the actual facts.

That’s why I thought I should take a moment to address this and set the record straight once and for all. Let me first explain that it’s not that these foods are horrible for you, it’s just that they aren’t as great as you might have been led to believe. The danger with these foods is that collectively, they add up and can taint an otherwise balanced and healthful diet. So, let’s get to it, shall we?

1.    Pretzels

The 411: No, they aren’t fried and yes, they are “low-fat.” But overall, pretzels offer little in the way of nutrition. Most of them are full of refined carbs...and that’s basically it. In my opinion, when it comes to getting the most out of your food choices, you deserve more!

NC advice: Opt for whole grain crackers that provide fiber and nutrients, while still giving you the crunch and carb fix you might be craving.

2.    Granola

The 411: I know, I know, your Instagram feed is full of beautiful acai bowls topped with granola, so how could I dare put granola on this list?! But, before you get all up in arms, turn over the nutrition facts label the next time you see granola in the supermarket and you’ll see why. Store-bought granola can be full of sugar and fat, so while you might feel great eating it every morning, it just might be the reason your pants are fitting just a little tighter.

NC advice: Portion control! Instead of filling up your bowl with granola, sprinkle just a little on top to provide the flavor and texture without all the calories. Or, make your own at home! That way you can control the amount and kinds of fat and sugar that go in.

3.    Juice

The 411: I’ve already gone on my juice rant in a previous post, and my theory still stands. Juice is full of sugar and void of any fiber. This = no bueno.

NC advice: Eat your fruits and veggies, or swap your juice for a smoothie! Both of those options provide you with all the fiber of the whole food, so they won’t allow your blood sugar to spike and will keep you fuller longer. Need help making a smoothie? Check out my guide to building a better one!

4.    Flavored Yogurt

The 411: Sure, yogurt can be a great breakfast or snack option – full of protein and probiotics. But, yogurt can easily become a sugar bomb once flavoring is added.

NC advice: Buy plain yogurt and take control of the flavoring yourself! Adding some fresh fruit and cinnamon might be all you need.

5.    Frozen Yogurt

The 411: There are people who will get a cup of frozen yogurt every single day. Now, ask them how many times they would dare to eat a scoop of ice cream and they’d probably gasp at the thought. My issue with frozen yogurt is that the advertised calories per serving often don’t match the serving size that your are actually getting. But beyond that, the amount of artificial ingredients and chemicals that are usually used in the yogurt's formula definitely give me pause. 

NC advice: Skip the fro-yo and treat yourself to a scoop of awesomely decadent ice cream once in a while. You’ll question how you ever thought the two were comparable. And when you’re craving the fro-yo on a daily basis, kick it to the curb with a small smoothie or fresh yogurt.

6.    Protein Bars

The 411: Aside from the fact that you probably don’t need as much protein as you think, protein bars generally pack excess sugar that you definitely don’t need. The result? Excess calories and sugar that might end up getting stored as fat….so much for protein bars building muscle!

NC advice: First find out how much protein you actually need. Then, get your protein from real whole foods like chicken, fish, lentils, beans, grains, nuts, etc. I promise, it’s not as hard as you might think!

7.    Whole Wheat Bagels

The 411: This might be a tad crushing, but just because your bagel is whole wheat, that does not make it healthy. In fact, to make a whole-wheat bagel (that still actually tastes and feels like a bagel), you’d still need at least half of your flour to be refined white flour. Otherwise, you’d end up with a dense ball of dough instead of the fluffy goodness that you’re used to. 

NC advice: Get an awesome piece of seeded whole grain bread for your daily breakfast sandwich and save a real bagel for that once in a while indulgence.

8.    Dried Fruit

The 411: Many people assume that because dried fruit comes from fruit, it is automatically a good go-to snack. But the issue with dried fruit is twofold. One, dried fruit often has added sugar. And two, because dried fruit is dried, you can end up consuming a lot more than you would if you were eating the fruit in its fresh form.

NC advice: When you do buy dried fruit, make sure to buy fruit that is dehydrated with no added sugar. And, when you eat it, be mindful to keep your portions in check. (Obviously opting for the fresh version is always a good choice as well!)

9.    Sweet Potato Fries

The 411: Yes, sweet potatoes may have the added benefit of vitamin A over your old school Idaho potatoes, but fried is fried…no two ways about it.

NC advice: Cut your potatoes into wedges and make your own baked version. If you’re craving that crunch factor, try grinding up some nuts and coat the potato before baking.

10. Iced Tea

The 411: Don’t get me wrong, it’s better than soda! But iced tea can still be loaded with sugar.

NC advice: Get it unsweetened. To amp up the flavor, try an interesting herbal blend and/or steep some fresh fruit in it. Adding some fresh mint and other herbs can also help to keep things interesting.

Have any questions? Feel free to post them in the comments or send an email to