11 Surprisingly Unhealthy Food Items to Cross off Your Grocery List
Food labeling is not always as straightforward as it appears. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration only requires certain information be disclosed which can leave room for food brands to make claims that are not supported by fact. There are very few regulations, for example, for what foods can claim to contain antioxidants, and there are currently no standards for to prevent a food from being labeled “heart-healthy” or “immune enhancing”. Foods labeled “low-fat”, “low-calorie”, and “low-carb,” may still contain a host of unhealthy ingredients, despite not having much fat, calories or carbs. It is important to do your own research before believing a claim presented on a foods label. Discover these surprisingly unhealthy foods you may have stocked in your refrigerator or pantry.
1. Bran Muffins
Bran has been touted as a healthful dietary fiber since the 1980s. When bran is made into a muffin, however, it is combined with a great deal of sugar and fat, not to mention other, less healthful grains like all-purpose white flour.
2. Diet Soda
The only healthy thing about diet soda is that it does not contain calories. It does, however, contain artificial sweeteners, many of which have already been found in ongoing research studies to be associated with negative health effects, including metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and stroke and coronary artery disease.
3. Dried Nut and Fruit Mixes
While fruits and nuts on their own are most certainly healthy, in the process of turning them into a marketable mix, most manufacturers add large quantities of sugar and salt to increase their palatability. That does not even take into consideration any high-calorie add-ins like coconut or chocolate some might contain.
4. Energy Bars
Energy bars are more like desserts than snacks, being made primarily of refined flour, corn syrup and sugar. Often, these bars even have chocolate or other candy coatings to make them more appealing. Although sugar and chocolate are ok to consume in small portions, check the nutritional facts before buying an energy bar to see just how many calories and grams of sugar are included.
5. Frozen Yogurt
What makes yogurt so healthy is the live and active beneficial bacterial cultures it contains that supports the digestive system. When yogurt is processed into frozen yogurt, it is heated first, which kills off all the healthy cultures. There is also the problem of overconsumption. People tend to eat more frozen yogurt than they would ice cream. Consumers do this because of its purportedly healthy nature, however, eating a large portion of any food is not good for your health.
While many of the ingredients in granola might be healthy on their own, the act of making them into granola produces a less healthier result. Part of the reason for this is portion control. In small portions, nuts, seeds and fruits are extremely healthy, but in large quantities, they can add too much fat and calories into the diet. As such, granola is a calorie rich food, containing around 160 calories in a single quarter-cup serving, and can be high in fat as well. Such numbers do not even account for the high sugar, fat and calorie add-ins many granolas contain, like yogurt, chocolate, coconut and fruit coated in sugar.
Multi-grain breads, crackers and cereals may contain some grains other than wheat, but they also contain a lot of wheat. More importantly, they are still refined grains, and it is the refining of grains that makes them less digestible and saps out much of their nutritive qualities. Rather than multi-grain products, look for whole grain products, in which much of the digestive enzymes and nutrients in the grains are still intact.
8. Peanut Butter with Reduced Fat
The fat that peanut butter contains is actually a combination of healthy fats that benefit the body, namely monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Reducing or removing these fats makes the product less healthy, not healthier. In fact, the result of removing these fats is a decrease in flavor for which manufacturers usually compensate by adding sugar.
9. Rice Cakes
Rice cakes are not necessarily bad for you. They are just not good for you in any perceivable way. Rice cakes contain almost no nutritional value and lack fiber to help make you feel full. Even worse, flavored rice cakes are essentially delivery systems for the heavy doses of sugar and salt used in these flavorings.
10. Smoothies and Super-Juices
Despite the appealing promises of energy, clarity, immunity and weight loss that super juices and smoothies offer, there is not enough sufficient evidence supporting those claims. There is, however, evidence that juices are high in sugar and contain less fiber, unlike eating an actual piece of fruit, which balances the two. Moreover, the high sugar content in these drinks can cause blood sugar levels to dramatically spike and then crash.
11. Veggie Burgers
Not all veggie burgers are unhealthy, but a vast majority of them are not healthy. Many veggie burgers contain a great deal of fillers, like cornstarch, yeast extract and gums, and lack sufficient vegetables, which contain the fiber that would make the body feel nutritionally sated. A veggie burger should have no greater than 500 mg of sodium, 7 g of protein and 150 calories.