Top Ten Foods You Think Are Healthy But Aren't (And What to Eat Instead)

Photo by Mike Lawton
Well this is just a world of bad.
New year, new resolutions to exercise more and eat better to achieve a healthier lifestyle. These are worthy goals, of course, but many people don't realize they're sabotaging their attempts at healthy living with food and drinks that masquerade as nutritious but actually aren't. Sneaky little devils.

Eating better is often a simple matter of reading labels and nutrition information to figure out exactly what's in whatever it is you're ingesting. Many products purport to be healthy when they're actually packed with sugar, preservatives and other chemicals. Instead, aim for the fewest ingredients possible, and eat the real stuff instead of faux health food.

Here are some primary offenders.

Photo by theimpulsivebuy
OK, that doesn't even sound good.
10. Fat-free anything
Let's just make one thing clear: Fat-free does not mean calorie-free. Fat-free foods still have calories, and generally, they ain't good ones. When food chemists take the fat out of something, it has to be replaced by something else to add more flavor. Unfortunately, that something else is usually sodium and/or sugar. People also tend to eat more of something that's fat-free, because it sounds healthier. Instead, practice moderation. One chewy, full-fat cookie is going to be a lot tastier than five of those non-fat hockey pucks some companies pass off as cookies.

9. Flavored yogurt
You know how many yogurt companies print "real fruit" on the cup, as if actual things that grow out of the ground are supposed to be mind-blowing? That's because A). Most fruit-flavored yogurt is chock full of artificial flavors, so any hint of actual fruit is a good thing, and B). They want you to think it's healthier as a result. It's not, because it's packed with sugar, preservatives and usually food coloring. Yogurt should have two ingredients: Milk and active cultures. If you want fruity yogurt, buy plain yogurt and add fruit. It tastes better, because there aren't any weird chemicals or preservatives in it, and it's much healthier.

8. Energy bars
If you must eat an energy bar, think of it like a candy bar. It's an indulgence or a sweet snack, not a meal replacement. Energy bars are loaded with sugar, and most of them are also packed with enriched white flour, saturated fats and corn syrup, in addition to the few vitamins the wrapper touts on the front. Additionally, a small energy bar isn't likely to fill you up for long. Lara Bars and Kind Bars are made with mostly nuts, and the sugar is kept to a minimum. When you need a burst of energy in a hurry, try those instead.

This story continues on the next page.

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Jason McDaniel
Jason McDaniel

Your views are slightly off, maybe you should stick to individual brands... Not categories


This information has been around for a while but hardly anyone pays attention. Although, a recent study of artificial sweeteners has determined that the body reacts to them similar to sugar raising glucose levels (even though no calories), making them dangerous to diabetics.


Sorry, but this #1 is something often referred to as "number two." 

I have seen NO evidence that artificial sweeteners deserve the blanket condemnation they get from certain quarters, that they fool the body into craving sugar, that they "increase your risk of metabolic syndrome," etc. etc. ad nauseam. People yap about this as though it's established. It isn't.

A correlation would be completely understandable. People prone to metabolic syndrome are far more likely to use sugar substitutes. Causation has NEVER been established.

If you have a reliable source proving that those evil artificial sweeteners CAUSE metabolic syndrome, please cite it. Meanwhile, I am not about to drink "sparkling water or unsweetened tea" because I think that both taste like the aforementioned number two, and I'll continue to use artificial sweeteners, because I KNOW what actual sugar and other carbs do. FWIW, I'm not nuts about diet soda (not liking a lot of carbonation), but I used the dreaded aspartame for decades with no problems -- switching to sucralose last year because it has a liquid form. That accounts for a LOT of calories not consumed and a lot of insulin NOT flooded into my system -- so while it may not have helped me lose weight, it did not contribute to weight gain.

paval topcommenter

I agree in all those items being unhealthy, even though they are so tasty, but I missed a few items that are also on a Texan daily eating plan:

- sandwiches: the new healthy food for lunch: full of carbs in the bread, with meats that are pre-cut and hence full of nitrites, with sauces that have a lot of calories in form of HFCS, and with produce that has been pasteurized stripping it of all its nutrients or most of them at least

- Starbucks Coffee: specially flavored ones. If flavors are from beans, these are washed with a petrol based substance to stain in the hazelnut, amaretto or other flavor. If flavored with Syrup they are made with HFCS syrups

- Kolaches and donuts: pure saturated fats, a lot of calories, not natural ingredients

- alcoholic beverages: the other day i told someone: if the government would really have an interest in curbing the alcohol consumption in the US, they would only need to put nutritional information on the bottles and cans. but that would be risking all that sweet tax dollars and hence counterproductive.   

- juices: a lot of sugar, mostly made from concentrate, even if it says not made from concentrate, enhanced with natural flavors (which mostly are not from the fruit lending the juice its name, but from some items that are sometimes downright nasty)

- fast food: not necessary to explain too much. But meat filled with pink slime, lettuce and tomatoes that did not see their parents in several weeks, bread full of crap, processed cheese, etc. 

- tortilla and potato chips: a lot of fat to make them, GMO corn for tortilla chips, hydrolized oils for potato chips. A lot of salt. Carbs without end

As with most foods all these can be consumed but one should be conscious that one may be consuming the whole days worth of certain ingredients of which over-consumption is strongly discouraged.

KaitlinS topcommenter

@paval You're right about all of those, but this is a list of foods that people might think are healthy. I doubt most people assume donuts and fast food are good for them ;)

paval topcommenter

@KaitlinS@pavalOk. I did miss it in those two, but I can pull up at least ten people who believe that alcohol is healthy and preserves their bodies young.

Bruce_Are topcommenter


You missed it in those two?  You missed more than that.  People think potato chips are healthy? Flavored Starbuck's drinks? Tortilla chips? Kolaches?  And alcohol in moderation has shown health benefits.

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