Over the past decade or so there has been a massive fitness and health craze that has swept the country. It can be seen in every grocery and natural health foods store. However, not everything is as great as it seems. Many so-called healthy foods that are labeled as “all-natural,” “no sugar added,” “low-fat,” or even “organic,” are not anywhere near as healthy as they seem and some are downright unhealthy. Many so-called healthy foods are nothing but marketing hype designed to sell products rather than improve your health.
Many of the foods that we eat on a regular basis are ones that we should actually avoid if we are trying to improve our health and fitness or lose weight. The following are 12 so-called “healthy” foods that you should never eat.
Our Top “Health” Foods to Avoid
1. Energy bars
Most protein and energy bars claim to be great for your health. However, their nutritional profiles often have more in common with candy bars than they do health foods. Some of these bars contain as much sugar as many candies. So if you are going to eat an energy bar, make sure to carefully read the label to see what ingredients, calories, and how much sugar are contained in them.
2. Flavored instant oatmeal
Although this may be a very convenient and fairly tasty breakfast, instant flavored oatmeal is actually not very healthy. There is a lot of added sugar contained in single-serving, flavored packets, which also means there are usually a lot of unnecessary calories as well. If you want the convenience factor of instant oatmeal, then purchase it in the big tub and add spices and fruit such as raisins, nutmeg, and cinnamon to add flavor without reducing the health benefits. An even better form of oatmeal is to use steel-cut oats. They help to reduce the risk of heart disease, promote weight loss, and provide long-lasting energy.
3. Bran muffins
“Bran” sounds healthy and maybe somewhat boring. The outer layer of bran and other grains such as oats, rice, and wheat do offer healthy amounts of low-glycemic carbs, vitamins, protein, and fiber. However, the reason why bran muffins are not so healthy is due to the fact that a majority of portion triple the amounts you should be consuming and contain a lot more wheat flour than they do bran. Store-bought muffins frequently are full of sugar and sodium in order to combat the tasteless, dry flavor of bran. If you really want to eat bran muffins, bake your own in order to control portion size and the ingredients.
4. Packaged Turkey
A great choice for having a simple and quick dose of protein is to use leftover turkey and make a sandwich out of it for a snack or for the lunch. However, when store-bought packaged turkey brands are used it can turn into a salt-laden disaster. Packaged meats are frequently full of preservatives and salt. Chose brands that have a maximum of 350 milligrams of sodium per 2-ounce serving of turkey.
5. Dried Fruit
You might think that dried fruit would be a nice, healthy snack. After all, it is fruit. However, sulfur dioxide is used by companies to preserve its freshness and sugar is added to sweeten the fruit’s flavor (with pineapple and cranberries being two of the worst). This makes dried fruit more like candy. Although you do get good amounts of fiber, minerals, and vitamins, it is very easy to eat too much of it.
Since wraps are so much thinner than bread, buns, and sub sandwiches, they must be healthier for you, right? Well, sometimes. However, a major of sandwich shops and restaurants wrap all of the sandwich fixings into a 12-inch wrap that adds about double the amount of calories that regular bread does. Also, whole grain and veggie wraps often don’t contain nearly as much whole grains and vegetables that you may think they do. Usually, they don’t and have lots of added flavoring and coloring. Another problem with pre-made wraps is that you can’t control what is inside of them. You can’t take the ranch dressing, ham, and bacon out after they’ve been rolled up, and there is a good chance you can’t have addition veggies put in.
Pretzels might be one of your favorite snacks. They are fat-free after all. Unfortunately, there really isn’t much nutritional value contained in pretzels. They are made out of white flour, and it converts into sugar quickly inside of your body. This results in spikes in your blood sugar which causes you to be hungry. You should avoid eating pretzels as your favorite late-night snack, and instead eat foods high in fiber and protein.
8. Low-Fat and Skim Milk
Unfortunately, skim milk skimps on many of the things that make whole milk healthy for you. The fat is eliminated, but it also strips out essential vitamins (in addition to flavor and texture). To compensate for all of that, synthetic vitamins are added to skim milk to try to replace the calcium and protein that is lost during processing. There is not much benefit overall in purchasing fat-free dairy products. Denaturation and process should be minimized as much as possible.
9. Fruit Juice
A majority of packaged fruit juices are loaded with sugar. No matter how much we may want fruit juice to be healthy, it just isn’t. There is healthy fiber in whole fruit, especially in its flesh. However, in juice form, the nutrients and vitamins in the skin are also lost. You also don’t chew on liquid, so all of the sugar goes directly to your liver and then stored as fat.
10. Flavored Yogurt
Those small yogurt cups that you love to eat for your breakfast (which actually isn’t that filling and leaves you searching for more food shortly after eating it) is loaded with a lot more sugar than you might think. There are around 15 grams per 6-ounce servings of sugar added by most brands. So stop ruining your diet and wasting your hard-earned money. Switch over to plain Greek yogurt. It will fill you up and leave you feeling much more satisfied and provide you with a much-needed protein to get your day started off right.
11. Canned Soup
Although heating up a can of soup is very convenient for a quick dinner or lunch, most of them are not healthy and contain tons of sodium (with some of them having 400 mg of sodium per cup). If you really want to have soup on hand to heat up for a quick meal, make a big batch of homemade soup over the weekend and then freeze it into smaller portions for fast, nutritious, healthy meals.
Granola can be a nice filling snack, great as a cereal when milk is added to it, or delicious on top of yogurt. Unfortunately, most brands of granola add lots of oil and sugar when it is processed. Some are also full of dried fruit, nuts, and seed, which makes them very high in fat. Choose brands that have whole grains, oats, and other natural ingredients.
So there are 12 so-called healthy foods that you should avoid, at least in their packaged forms. A common theme you will see is that many of these foods in their processed forms have tons of sugar, artificial flavors, and other unhealthy ingredients add. So one way to still enjoy many of your favorite foods is to make your own to ensure that only natural ingredients are part of the mix.