You’re trying to eat healthy – but it’s a challenge. “Bad” foods taste so good, whereas the healthy foods usually aren’t that appealing to your taste buds. Unfortunately, “If it tastes good, it must be bad for you,” is usually a pretty accurate way to figure out what you should be eating.
There’s a good reason why some foods are classified as unhealthy. High sodium levels, high sugar levels, and calorie-heavy foods can all contribute to health issues. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention, a third of Americans are overweight, and another third are so overweight that they’re considered obese.
As consumers become more aware of the dangers of eating unhealthy foods, many manufacturers may face declining profits and a smaller share of the market. To remain competitive, they stay abreast of the latest trends, and then promote their products to health-conscious consumers as products that “are good for you.”
Other food manufacturers promote their products as containing fiber, whole wheat, and other ingredients that are usually considered nutritional. But often these foods contain such a small level of the desired nutrient and such high levels of sugar, salt and other harmful ingredients that they can’t really be considered healthy choices.
Keep reading to discover six foods that are considered healthy, but really aren’t.
6 Microwave Popcorn
Popcorn is often considered a healthy alternative to potato chips and other types of salty snacks. And while chips have little or no nutritional value, popcorn contains both fiber and iron. However, microwave popcorn is not as healthy as you might think. That’s because manufacturers use a chemical called diacetyl, which produces the artificial butter smell in microwaved popcorn. In fact, “popcorn lung” is commonly found in employees who work in microwave popcorn plants. And while it’s bad enough that employees may be getting sick, consumers are also at risk.
For example, Wayne Watson, a popcorn lover in Denver, Colorado, ate approximately two bags of popcorn every day for 10 years and as a result of inhaling the microwave popcorn’s diacetyl on routine basis, he developed respiratory problems. Watson sued the popcorn maker, Gilster-Mary Lee Corp, and also the Kroger supermarket that sold the popcorn, and won a $7.2 million verdict. As a result, many popcorn manufacturers no longer use diacetyl, but several companies still do.
In addition, microwave popcorn is also considered unhealthy because it contains high levels of salt and fat. The best way to ensure your popcorn is healthy is to pop it in a regular, brown paper bag in the microwave, and then add your own light seasonings.
5 Fruit Juices
Who doesn’t love fruit? It’s naturally sweet and tasty, and it’s also good for you. However, fruit can also be messy, and inconvenient to transport and keep fresh from home to school, your office or the gym. As a result, many people – especially parents – reach for fruit juices as a substitute.
However, fruit juice is often no better than sodas, according to Robert Lustig, the author of “Fat Chance: The Bitter Truth About Sugar.” In fact, Lustig says that a glass of 100% orange juice may be worse than a regular soda. A glass of orange juice may contain up to 25 grams of sugar, which is a few grams more than a glass of your average soda.
4 Frozen Yogurt
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream, but you may scream for a different reason when you find out that all of those times you sacrificed Rocky Ridge or Cookie Dough ice cream for frozen yogurt didn’t really make a difference.
According to Shape Magazine, frozen yogurt is lower in fat compared to ice cream. However, it still contains plenty of calories. And, at your favorite frozen yogurt shop, a 16 ounce cup of plain frozen yogurt may have up to 380 calories and 76 grams of sugar – before you start adding toppings. For example, topping your yogurt with yogurt chips can add an additional 150 calories and another 8 grams of fat.
And how many people are really choosing yogurt chips as a topping compared to the many other, more appetizing options? Well, what about the extra benefits of eating yogurt, such as probiotics? The manufacturing process usually destroys them.
3 Granola Bars
Granola is made with rolled oak flakes, which sounds innocent enough. However, that’s not usually how it’s sold or consumed. Once the oil and sweeteners, along with various other substances such as nuts and chocolate are added to the mix, along with preservatives, a granola bar isn’t much different from a candy bar.
A single granola bar is loaded with sugar, saturated fat, and sodium. And adding insult to injury, a granola bar is usually much smaller than a standard candy bar. At a comparable size, it may be worse than a candy bar.
2 Bread/Wheat Bread
Surely bread is a healthy food. We’re not talking about dinner rolls that are bigger than your fist and dripping with butter. You know those aren’t healthy because they taste too good. But plain, old bread – and especially wheat bread?
Flour, water, yeast, a dash of salt. What’s not healthy about that? Well, maybe that’s the way your grandmother makes bread, but that’s not the way it’s manufactured. Whether white or wheat, processed bread contains sugar, salt, corn syrup, and a laundry list of other ingredients that add flavor and extend shelf life.
What could be unhealthy about a smoothie? It’s made with fruit and other natural ingredients, right? Well, that depends. If you make a smoothie at home, you can control the ingredients that go into it. However, when you purchase a ready-made smoothie, you’re greatly decreasing the chances that your smoothie is a healthy as you think it is.
Some smoothies are made with regular, unhealthy ice-cream, and are also loaded with extra sugar. And what’s the purpose of choosing a supposedly-healthy smoothie made with ice cream, when you could just enjoy a cup of ice cream, an ice cream cone, or a milk shake?