Trying to live a healthy lifestyle can be confusing. There are often healthy food trends – sugar-free, fat-free, low-carb and gluten-free. It can be difficult to find your way in the healthy world especially when some ‘healthy’ foods can be misleading. 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.
Here are the top 5 unhealthiest health foods:
5.) Diet Soda
Many people have decided to change from a regular soda to a diet soda, in the hopes that they are being healthier. 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.
As well as artificial sweeteners, diet sodas are filled with tooth-enamel-eroding flavors and additives. 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. Groups of scientists have also claimed that low-calories sweeteners could lead to weight gain and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
4.) Trail Mix
Trail mix is filled with a lot of delicious ingredients, mostly nuts, that are good for you—in moderation. The mix often includes chocolate chips and sugary dried fruit as well. 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. Another alternative is simply a handful of raw nuts instead and some high-cacao dark chocolate.
3.) Granola Bars
It’s common to think that granola bars may seem good for a quick pickup between meals. However, they’re bursting with sodium, sugar and saturated fats. Granola is thought to be quite versatile, it can go with yogurt, with milk or a snack on its own but so many granola bars are packed with butter, vegetable oil and white sugar.
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. Try to find brands that use a blend of oats, whole grains and other natural ingredients and always stick to the recommended portion size on the label.
2.) Wheat and Multi-Grain Bread
Whole wheat and multi-grain bread 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 making them one of the unhealthiest health foods. 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.
Another clue that the bread is healthy is if each slice has at least 2 grams of fibre. Many of the bread that claim to be whole wheat are just white bread with a small amount of wheat flour mixed in for marketing purposes.
1.) Prepared Salads
Salads are the most deceiving of the unhealthiest health foods. They 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 Moroccan-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.