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Popular Foods That Claim to Be Healthy But Surprisingly Aren't

Foods That Claim to Be Healthy But Aren't
We often tend to buy a food product backed up by commercial ads that promote its health benefits. However, these claims often fall short after you check the ingredients list and when the product is analyzed in randomized controlled studies.
NutriNeat Staff
Last Updated: Mar 26, 2018
When health is in doldrums and retaining fitness tops the list of our priorities, we often find ourselves on the look out of foods that are low in calories and also pack a powerful nutrition punch. Visit any food chain store and you will find plenty of packaged foods and bottled beverages tagged as healthy choices. You check the food label and notice words like minerals, vitamins, and whole grains on the ingredients list and immediately buy the product without giving a second thought to the amount of calories or sugar present in it. The tall claims made by food brands hide the underlying reality and make us believe that the product is healthy.
Mentioned below are a few food products that are not as healthy as you may think.
Low-fat Yogurt
low fat yogurt
Low-fat yogurt sold by various brands is touted be a weight loss food. Its proponents claim that low-fat or skim milk is primarily used to make low-fat yogurt. However, these dairy products are often fortified with sugar to enhance their taste. Even a cup of plain non-fat yogurt contains a whopping 12-15 grams of sugar. Aspartame, an artificial sweetener that has been associated with a wide range of health problems, is often added to non-fat flavored yogurt.

Also, some yogurt brands use milk powder as the main ingredient, thereby further reducing the nutritional value of the product. A healthier alternative would be to choose Greek yogurt, as its 1 cup contains only 6-8 grams of sugar.
Energy Bars
five energy bars
Energy bars are pitched as foods high in nutrition that help to up our flagging energy levels. Though consuming energy bars may combat fatigue from a strenuous exercise routine, they certainly should not be consumed frequently due to their high sugar content. Quite a few energy bars are packed with 25-30 grams of sugar (overdose) and contain as much as 350-400 calories. A Granola bar is especially loaded with chocolate and sugar.

Sugar present in energy bars is often mentioned on the label pack as sugar alcohol, brown rice syrup, fructose corn syrup and sucralose, which are nothing but artificial sweeteners. Also, some energy bars are primarily made from soy protein isolate which may cause thyroid disorders. Choose energy bars that are made from whey protein, almonds, brown rice, and fruits, and also contain not more than 250 calories and 14 grams of sugar. All in all, check the package label and make sure the ingredients list consists of natural foods.
Prepared Salads
salad with mayonnaise and cheese
Prepared salads that are sold in food store chains and available at fast food restaurants are a classic case of 'more than meets the eye'. At first, the green vegetables in the salad may compel you to consider it as nutritious. However, these leafy greens are often complemented with a generous dose of mayonnaise, cheese, cream, bacon, and other high calorie dressings.

A salad is supposed to be low in calories, but the addition of unnecessary toppings makes it a calorie-packed dish. Also, packaged salads tend to have a lower nutritional value than the one that is freshly prepared. Hence, make sure that the salads are made from fresh vegetables and do not contain any unhealthy foodstuffs.
Bran Muffins
bran muffin
The basic ingredients in muffin are refined flour, sugar and oil, all high in calories. Although, bran is a good source of fiber and is considered to be good for the heart, the fiber content in it is quite miniscule. A bran muffin with fruits also tends to be high in sugar. For instance, the apple muffin bran sold by Starbucks has around 34 mg of sugar. The added butter (high in unsaturated fats) in most muffins, makes it even more unhealthier. So, if your breakfast on the run consists of munching a muffin, you are adding at least 350-400 calories to your body.
Gluten-free Snacks
gluten free cookies
Gluten-free snacks are primarily recommended for those suffering from gluten allergy. People with celiac disease (a digestive disorder) are advised to avoid gluten that is present in bread, cookies, and pasta. However, these gluten-free snacks are not healthy as they contain a substantial amount of sugar. So, their regular consumption may ultimately lead to weight gain.
Whole Wheat Bread
slices of bread
We often prefer to consume whole grain wheat flour products over its counterparts, white or refined flour. However, buying a multigrain or whole wheat bread does not always mean that the product is free from refined flour. In fact, quite a few whole grain products contain white flour as the primary ingredient. A product may be 100% whole wheat, if the label mentions whole grain as the first ingredient. Many times, the term 'bleached' or 'unbleached enriched wheat flour' tops the ingredients list, suggesting that the supposed whole wheat product primarily consists of white flour.
Packaged Nuts
salted cashew nuts
Nuts are a rich source of proteins and fats. However, the salted variety of nuts available in beautifully packaged boxes are high in sodium, which is certainly not good from a health standpoint. The same holds true for peppered or spiced nuts. Nuts are healthy, only if they are not seasoned. Therefore, to prevent addition of excess salt in your diet, eat unsalted raw nuts for a healthy living.
Hazelnut Spread
hazelnut spread on bread
Hazelnut spread may have a lip-smacking taste, but is not healthy as claimed to be. Just 2 tablespoons of hazelnut spread is loaded with 200 calories. Most of these calories come from sugar and fat. Moreover, it contains palm oil, which according to WHO may increase the likelihood of getting cardiovascular problems.

Although hazelnuts are a good source of vitamin E and dietary fiber, only 13% of it, is present in a jar of Nutella (a popular hazelnut chocolate spread). Similarly, skimmed milk (low in fats) forms just 7% of the hazelnut spread. The delicious taste of Nutella is due to the high amount of cocoa and sugar, but unfortunately this ingredient combination is not nutritious. Replacing your hazelnut spread with low-fat cottage cheese can be a good addition to your morning breakfast.
Veggie Chips
colorful veggie chips
Makers of 'veggie chips' claim it to be a healthier alternative to potato chips. Potato chips are high in calories and their regular consumption can lead to weight gain. However, contrary to the popular belief, veggie chips are primarily made from potatoes and only a thin coat of vegetable powder is sprinkled over the chips. So, no matter what type of chips you prefer, calories remain the same.
Baked Chips
stack of baked chips
Ditch fried chips and go for baked chips is one advice given by healthy food proponents. No doubt, baked chips are not as guilty as fried chips where fattening oil is concerned, but these chips are often made from white flour, making them a high calorie snack. Nutrition-wise also, there is minimal difference between baked and fried chips. A better choice would be whole grain crackers that provide the goodness of nutrition and are also delicious, but not at the expense of calories.
Vitamin-enriched Flavored Water
vitamin enriched water with orange flavor
Vitamin-enriched drinks, a rage among teens and adults alike, is said to be a good source of vitamin B1, B2, and C. However, gulping down a bottle of such a drink means you are ingesting a whopping 32 grams of sugar. So, consuming this bottled mineral water on a regular basis is likely to derail your weight loss plans. Also, people advised to control sugar intake, especially those suffering from diabetes, need to stay away from these beverages. Most food brands selling vitamin-enriched water use crystalline fructose as a flavor enhancer, which is an artificial sweetener.
Sports Drinks
cans of energy drinks
Sports drinks marketed as sugar-free drinks contain artificial sweeteners (like sucralose) that have been linked to harmful side effects. The Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health has reported that sucralose can significantly decrease the population of friendly bacteria in the intestine. Also, most sports drinks have citric acid that can be detrimental to your tooth enamel, if consumed in excess. Instead of sports drinks, drinking coconut water or homemade lime juice could be a better alternative.
Smoothies
glasses containing smoothies
Smoothies are often assumed to be healthy because of their natural ingredients, but most smoothies available at fast food restaurants are loaded with processed sugar, sweetened fruit juice, and high calorie dairy products such as frozen yogurt and ice cream. No wonder, you end up consuming 400-600 calories. A better choice would be to have homemade smoothie that essentially consists of frozen fruits, coconut water, and skimmed milk.
There is no doubt that these popular food stuffs contain healthy ingredients but due to the addition of high amount of sugar, their overall health value decreases. Yet, you can include them in your diet, provided they are consumed in moderation.