The Unhealthiest Health Foods

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We’d all like to eat healthier, but take a close look at what’s billed as health food. Some foods that are supposed to be good for you don’t contain the added nutrition their name suggests. What’s worse, others are loaded with unhealthy amounts of sodium and extra calories. It can be well worth your time and effort to scrutinize the labels of so-called healthy foods.

5 Diet Soda

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Chances are, drinking one or two cans of diet soda won’t hurt you. But switching from regular soda to soda that’s been artificially sweetened won’t help you lose weight. What’s worse, epidemiological studies show that significant health risks may be associated with diet soda. According to the American Academy of Neurology, people who drink four or more cups of diet soda per day have a greater chance of developing depression. Researchers in Denmark have also linked high diet soda consumption to preterm deliveries in pregnant women.

4 Trail Mix

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Trail mix is filled with a lot of delicious ingredients, mostly nuts, that are good for you—in moderation. Nuts contain healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and protein. But they’re also highly caloric. Depending on the actual ingredients, a single ounce of trail mix can be loaded with anywhere from 115 to 137 calories. That’s up to 706.6 calories per cup! The good news is that using dried fruit instead of chocolate chips when sweetening your own trail mix can save you about 135 calories per cup.

3 Granola Bars

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Granola bars may seem good for a quick pickup between meals, but they’re bursting with sodium, sugar and saturated fats. Store-bought granola bars can pack up to 414 calories apiece. That’s more calories than you would find in a McDonald’s Double Cheeseburger. Add peanut butter and a milk chocolate coating to the mix, and that number rises to a whopping 536 calories—for a 3.5 ounce snack.

2 Wheat and Multi-Grain Breads

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Whole wheat and multi-grain breads are filled with healthy complex carbohydrates and protein. The problem is that a lot of bread that is sold as multi-grain or whole wheat is actually made from refined grains. Make sure you read the label carefully. If the first flour listed in the ingredients is “unbleached enriched wheat flour” or “bleached,” it’s not 100 percent whole wheat or multi-grain, and you’re not getting the nutritional value you paid for.

1 Prepared Salads

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Salads may seem like a health-conscious choice when eating out, but just because there’s lettuce in a meal doesn’t mean you have chosen a healthy entree. For example, California Pizza Kitchen’s Morroccan-Spiced Chicken salad has 1,370 calories. That’s equal to 2 1/2 Big Macs. Fortunately, many restaurants offer lower-calorie versions of their standard salad meals. For example, choosing a half portion of Applebee’s Oriental Chicken salad and skipping the dressing drops the calorie count from 1,390 to 360.

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