When a food has to be labeled as “healthy,” it often means that it’s not actually that nutritious. Many companies market foods as “healthy” and “natural” in order to drive consumers to buy their products. Other foods, like the 10 listed below, have been deemed healthier than they actually. Bottom line? Read the nutrition label and be wary of high-calorie, sugar, and carbohydrate contents, unnatural additives, and low quality ingredients.
1. Premade Smoothies
Most premade smoothies are created almost entirely from fruits and contain added sugar. While fruit is healthy, packing large amounts into a small bottle makes for a serving filled with large quanitites of sugar and carbohydrates. The Probiotic Machine Tropical Mango smoothie from Naked boasts that is has “no added sugar,” yet the 15-ounce smoothie has 280 calories, 53 grams of sugar, and 66 grams of carbohydrates. ALOHA’s nutritionist Jillian Tuchman advises you to keep the carb count under 25 grams for a meal or snack-sized smoothie. Making your own smoothie is easy, and it allows you to handpick wholesome, real-food ingredients.
While oats add fiber and iron, and seeds and nuts add healthy fats, omega-3s, and protein, most granolas are very high in calories and sugar. Many contain fillers like inulin and soy protein isolate. Not all granolas are created equal, and some can be great options, when consumed in small doses. Just be wary of the serving size.
3. Coffee Drinks
If you mix coffee with milk, sugar, syrup, chocolate, and ice, it’s not just coffee anymore. Most coffee drinks are loaded with sugar, high in calories, and have little (or no) nutritional value. For healthy coffee inspiration indulge in one of our five favorite healthy coffee recipes.
4. Frozen Yogurt
Often represented as the innocent cousin of ice cream, many frozen yogurts are not actually that nutritious. Most frozen yogurts are advertised as nonfat or low-fat. This doesn’t mean they are necessarily a low-calorie option. In fact, they often have more sugar to make up for the nonfat flavor palate. Other issues with frozen yogurt (especially self-serve) is portion control, with additional calories and sugar coming from candy-coated toppings.
5. Dried Fruit
Pure dried fruit is actually pretty much as healthy as fresh fruit. The only difference is that dried fruit is void of all water content. It is more concentrated than fresh fruit. People tend to eat more of it due to it’s bite-sized appeal, not realizing that one piece of dried fruit is equivalent to one piece of fresh fruit in terms of calories and sugar. Make sure you read the labels, as many dried fruits are coated in sugar or other additives.
Protein bars—which are advertised as high in protein, vitamins, and minerals—can be deceiving. Often they have so much sugar that they’re barely healthier than a candy bar. Read the label and stay away from high fructose corn syrup, soy protein isolate, preservatives, and other low quality ingredients. ALOHA Protein Bars are a great on-the-go meal option, with 18 grams of grain-free plant-based protein, six grams of fiber, and no artificial ingredients, ever.
7. Fruit Juice
Many people have been conditioned to think that drinking a glass of orange juice each morning puts you on the fast track to health. This is not the case. The pasteurization process of juicing strips the fruit of its fiber—yielding a glass of empty nutrients. Try out our Frozen Mango Smoothie or The Berry Perry to get your fix of liquid fruit in a nutritious way.
8. Commercial Salad Dressing
Opening a bottle of commercial salad dressing can undo any health benefits gained from the salad itself. Most dressings are incredibly high in calories and are loaded with artificial ingredients, sugar, trans fats, and cheap, refined vegetable oils. If you’re reaching for the fat-free stuff, remember that while you might save on calories, the sugar content is often doubled due to the lack of fat. Make your own dressing to guarantee optimal nutrition. Try making our Coconut Lime Dressing or Avocado Dressing.
9. Fruit-at-the-Bottom Yogurt
A standard six-ounce fruit-at-the-bottom yogurt has 24 grams of sugar and 29 grams of carbs—almost equivalent to a candy bar. While it might taste better than plain yogurt, due to the syrup at the bottom of the container, it’s filled with highly processed, refined sugar. Stick to plain yogurt and add real fruit and a natural sweetener, if desired.
10. Nut Butters
We love nut butters (in moderation) as they are high in fiber and healthy fats and can be a great addition to your diet. However, many of the commercially available brands contain sugar and refined, processed vegetable oils. Nuts contain plenty of good-for-you oils naturally, so there’s no need to add any more. When buying nut butters, make sure that nuts are the only ingredient.
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