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30 Foods That Aren't as Healthy as You Think

Granola

Prepackaged varieties come with way too much sugar to be healthy, and they're often packed with additional calories, which completely ruins the whole point of your “healthy” snack. There are some options in stores that are healthier than others, but these can even have added sugars and additives that can sabotage your healthy lifestyle. When it comes down to it, if you want your granola to be anything other than a sugary, gut-busting mess, you're going to have to go the DIY route. 

Yogurt

While yogurt is touted as a wonderful, healthy, nutritious snack, that doesn’t mean all varieties are great for you. In general, the tastier it is, the less healthy it becomes. For example, those kinds with fruit on the bottom have much more sugar than is healthy because the fruit is soaked in its own sweet mixture. 

Protein Bars

While you may get a high dose of protein in these, you’ll also get a whopping dose of sugar in most brands. The ingredients that get added in are a big part of how healthy or unhealthy these actually turn out to be. If you’re choosing bars soaked in chocolate, you’re getting your protein at a high cost. Luckily, not every product doubles as a candy bar. Look at the nutrition labels and not just the claims on the front of the box to make an informed decision. 

Almonds

Yes, almonds are full of fiber and fatty acids, but they’re also full of calories: over 600 in one cup. If you snack on them throughout the day, they can quickly put you past your caloric limit, so watch your serving size. Additionally, almonds coated in chocolate, sugar, or salt can add even more calories and a number of other unhealthy ingredients. 

Fruit Juice

Fruit juice does not equal fruit any more than peanut butter equals peanuts. Unless you’re choosing a brand that lists the ingredients as fruit and fruit only, you’re probably taking in a whopping amount of refined sugar. Additionally, the process to get juice usually strips out the all-important fiber that balances those naturally occurring sugars in fruit.  

Low-Fat Food

You may not be doing your diet a favor by choosing foods with lower amounts of fat. Not only is a little bit of fat good for you, but excess salt or sugar usually takes its place in these products as well. 

Sugar-Free Food

Not all sugar-free foods are an unwise choice, but many of these substitute sugar for aspartame, neotame, or a similar non-sugar sweetener to keep the taste without the carbohydrates. While some of these sweeteners are safe, especially natural ones, the chemical sweeteners can cause more harm than they’re worth.

For example, as aspartame is digested, it builds up in the body, and can cause everything from gastrointestinal problems to migraines, not to mention messing with the metabolism, leading to, ironically, weight gain. Do your research before choosing your artificial sugars. 

Bran Muffins

When you think bran, you think healthy, right? Not necessarily. Even if you’re opting for a bran muffin instead of a croissant or a donut, chances are it's still roughly the size of a softball. This means it’s probably at least two servings worth of muffin, and most are packed with sugar and butter as well. It may be better than a double chocolate, chocolate chip muffin, but it’s still not a healthy choice, unless you only eat part of it, or make it at home, at a normal muffin size.

Banana Chips

Just because it has a fruit in the name doesn’t make it healthy. Banana chips are deep fried, which makes them high in saturated fats and calories, as opposed to their freshly peeled counterparts. Both of these things mean higher cholesterol and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Additionally, the frying process strips bananas of many of their vitamins and minerals. If you can’t settle for just a good ole' fashioned banana, try baking or dehydrating slices instead. 

Gluten-Free Foods

If you have a gluten allergy, then this doesn’t apply to you. However, if you’re eating gluten-free foods because you think they are healthier, you’re fooling yourself. Most gluten-free products aren’t going to have the whole grains other options provide. They’re highly refined, and in the end, they usually don’t have as many antioxidants or as much fiber as those brands you’ve been shunning.

Compare your labels, and realize gluten isn’t always bad for you. Conversely, if you’re dead set against gluten, you can make your bread at home. When the recipe calls for gluten, just leave it out. The worst thing that happens is that your loaf won’t be quite as shapely as it might have been. 

Veggie Chips

Packaged veggie chips or straws are just as bad as regular chips. A single ounce of veggie chips can have 130 calories and 7 grams of fat, which is less than an ounce of potato chips. Veggie chips can also have 16 g of carbs and a whopping 230 mg of sodium, which is more than the same amount of potato chips.

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Rice Cakes

Rice cakes are low in fat and calories, but they don’t have many nutrients either. Rice cakes are also simple carbs and rank high on the glycemic index meaning it’ll raise your blood sugar quickly. You’ll get a rush of energy but will leave you hungry within a few hours.

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Protein Shakes

Protein shakes are more like milkshakes than you may want. Some shakes are loaded with sugar, and the sugar-free versions can cause weight gain thanks to artificial sweeteners. Making your own is much healthier since you can control all of the ingredients.

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Popcorn

Popcorn can be low in calories, but you have to pop your own. Pre-popped and microwaveable popcorn are loaded with trans fats and salt. If you can’t live without popcorn, popping your own is super easy – all you need is kernels and oil.

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Soy Milk

Soy milk suffers from the same issue as shakes – too much sugar. Regular milk has sugar, but it’s in the form of lactose. Soy milk uses added sugar to match the natural sweetness of milk. Chocolate soy milk can have up to 19 g sugar in a single cup. Unsweetened soy milk is an option with as little as one gram of sugar, but may not be appealing to those used to sweetened soy milk.

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Frozen Meals

Frozen meals are convenient, but they’re far from healthy – even the ones that are described as healthy! Most frozen dinners and snacks are loaded with preservatives and sodium. The best way to avoid this is to make your own meals and freeze them for reheating.  

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Skim Milk

It’s a common idea that skim milk is better for you. While it is lower in calories and fat, it’s not necessarily better. Studies have shown that drinking whole milk lowers your risk of getting diabetes by 6%. Another analyzed over 18,000 women and found that those that drank high-fat dairy products lowered their risk of being overweight by 8%.

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Pretzels

Pretzels are low in calories and delicious, but they’re incredibly high in sodium. Additionally, most pretzels are made of white flour and can cause blood sugar spikes pretty easily.

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Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is often considered much healthier than any other oil alternative, but it’s not all good. A single tablespoon of coconut oil has over 115 calories and 12 grams of saturated fat. It’s low in monounsaturated fat and shows antibacterial properties, but it’s definitely a food you should only eat occasionally.

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Agave Nectar

Agave nectar is considered a much better alternative to sugar, but it’s higher in fructose when compared to other sugars. When consumed in high amounts, fructose can lead to insulin resistance and could chronically elevate blood sugar.  

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Canned Soups

Many companies suggest that eating canned soup will help you be a healthier person. In reality, some brands have a ton of sugar – as much as 22 grams. They also have a ton of sodium that can increase blood pressure. Canned soup is definitely better than eating a cheeseburger, but if you're comparing it to a salad, it's not as good for your body.

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Turkey Bacon

Turkey bacon is certainly healthier than regular bacon, but it’s actually full of artificial colors, sodium, saturated fat, and nitrates. All of these ingredients increase your risk of digestive cancers. It’s not the best news for those of us that are addicted to delicious bacon.

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Coconut Water

Coconut water claims that you can naturally hydrate with a healthy water alternative. If you read the label, it actually has a ton of sugar. The plain flavors have the least amount of sugar, but if you choose any flavored brand, you can get as much sugar as a candy bar. It isn’t exactly healthy to be drinking a ton of sugar.

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Flavored Oatmeal

Making a bowl of packaged, flavored oatmeal is easy, but it has a boatload of sugar. Just one package of Quaker Maple and Brown Sugar Oatmeal has 12 grams of sugar in it. You can decrease the amount of sugar by making your own oatmeal and choosing exactly how much sugar you eat.

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Egg Substitutes

Egg substitutes may tout the “healthy” rumor, but most are full of egg whites. Egg whites have almost no nutritional value. Meanwhile, egg yolks are a great source of protein, amino acids, B6, B12, riboflavin, and choline. These vitamins and minerals can help regular blood sugar levels and possibly lower your risk of heart disease.

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Margarine

Margarine was considered healthier than butter once upon a time, but that time isn’t any longer. That was before there was much research on trans fats. Margarine has quite a bit of trans fats, which can increase your risk of heart disease and high cholesterol.  

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Cereal

Cereal is delicious to eat in the morning, but you have to be careful what you buy. Many brands are loaded with sugar. It’s easy to tell a box of Lucky Charms is bad for you, but even some whole grain cereals have extra sugar to make them taste better. Before you grab a box, check the nutritional facts to make sure you’re not falling into a sugar trap.

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Vegetable Pasta

Just to be clear, we’re talking about pasta that claims it had vegetables in it – not vegetables that have been turned into pasta, like zucchini. Vegetable pasta often uses the pigments or juice from the vegetables to give them color. It adds little nutritional value, so it’s basically like eating plain white pasta.

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Fast Food Salads

If you’re going to eat at a fast food restaurant, a salad is a wise choice, correct? Unfortunately, wrong. Fast food salads can have added sugar and even have more calories than other items on the menu. One McDonalds Caesar salad has more calories and fat than a Big Mac.

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Couscous

Couscous isn’t actually a grain. It’s small balls of semolina. Semolina is the same thing as white pasta, so couscous is actually just pasta in a different shape. Whole wheat couscous is better for you, but the healthiest option is whole grains.

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