8 Surprising Unhealthy Foods

unhealthy, snacks, drinks, foodsMany foods gain a reputation as healthy foods for no good reason. Sometimes advertisers go overboard on some marginal health benefit the food might provide. Other times, the public hears a snippet about a study and misinformation spreads like wildfire. Finally, bad science can and does happen every now and again. In order to straighten out the crooked record of what is healthy and what is not, let’s go through some so-called “healthy” foods and point out their weaknesses.

1. Certain Types of Yogurt

Not all yogurts are created equal. In fact, most yogurts are quite bad for you, loaded with artificial sweeteners, corn syrup or sugars. Artificial colorings are common in many yogurts as well. However, plain yogurt and no-sugar-added Greek yogurt provide legions of helpful bacteria to keep your digestive system healthy and effective at absorbing nutrients for your body. When it comes to yogurt, if it’s not white, don’t eat it.

2. Instant Oatmeal

Oatmeal has lots of fiber and proteins. However, popular oatmeal flavors like maple and brown sugar or cinnamon and spice flavors that come in single serve packets have lots of sugar added. Stick to the plain, whole-grain oatmeal to improve your health and beware those convenient and colorful instant packets.

3. Energy bars

Energy bars really aren’t that different from candy bars. Where do you think the energy in energy bars comes from? If you guessed sugars, you’re right! That’s precisely where candy bars get their energy boost, too. Plus, these highly processed concoctions don’t even fit into a food group most of the time.

4. Juices

Advertisers have a field day with juices. All they have to do is add some cheap, mass-produced Vitamin C powder and mix it in with all the sugar-added concentrated juice. Advertise that there is “a full day’s supply of Vitamin C” and it sounds absolutely great. Wait before you buy, though, because you can get Vitamin C from fruits without rotting your teeth by drinking juice that has almost as much sugar as a soda. Only drink 100% juice and limit portions to 4 oz.

5. Multigrains

“What?” You gasp. Whole grains are the holy grail of health, right? Well, whole grain and multi grain are not the same thing. “Made with whole grains” only means there is some amount of whole grain in the product. Multigrains sound great, but they aren’t necessarily healthy. Trace amounts of different grains make something qualify as multi-grain. When you consider that these multiple grains can be bleached, processed grains, you can see why these really don’t have to be healthy. Read the back to make sure some sly advertiser isn’t tricking you–or just stick with the whole grains.

6. Sports Drinks

The “sports” in the title makes you think this drink would be healthy. It isn’t. There’s lot of sugar added, which makes sports drinks not that much different from sodas.

7. Fat-free Foods

Fat-free foods can be healthy, but they often contain additional sugars to make up for the lack of fats. You’re much better off eating a small portion of a fatty food than a large portion of a fat free one.

8. Phony “Natural” Foods

Natural is a word tacked on to food labels to make them sound better for you. There is no accepted definition of “Natural” in the food industry, except for meat products. On most packages, the word is meaningless.  Check the ingredients and ask yourself, “Could I produce this same product in my kitchen?” If not, walk away.

Giving up packaged oatmeal was big deal for me. I bought it for the high fiber content and never thought about the sugar. But plain oatmeal cooks just as fast, and I can control how much sugar is in it, rather than accepting overly-sweet cereal made in a factory. What so-called “healthy” foods did you have to give up?

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