Food manufacturers have jumped on the “healthy food” bandwagon, at least when it comes to their marketing strategies. They know just how to make you think that their products are healthy, even if they’re not.
Labels such as low-fat, multi-grain, gluten-free and more can make you feel like you’re choosing a healthy option at the store, but read those labels carefully. Just because a food has a healthy-sounding label doesn’t mean it’s actually good for you.
Here are 5 foods that sound like they should be healthy but aren’t that good for you. And there’s plenty more where these came from.
In an effort to keep your heart healthy or your weight down you may look for reduced fat or fat-free food options. Be aware that when fat is removed from a food, additional sugar or sodium is often added to replace the taste lost from the fat. These products may also contain artificial ingredients and few nutrients. So skip the fat-free salad dressing and make your own with olive oil, vinegar and fresh herbs. Instead of eating a sleeve of low-fat cookies, choose the regular version and limit yourself to one or two.
You made the switch to wheat or multi-grain breads, pasta and other carbs because they’re supposed to be healthier than comparable products made using white flour. But if you don’t check the label, you may still be getting refined grains that don’t give you the nutrients found in 100% whole grains. If the first ingredient is enriched wheat flour or another type of enriched flour, you’ll be losing out on valuable nutrients that come from eating the whole grain.
You grab an energy bar as a snack after your workout or during your mid-afternoon slump, thinking it has to be better for you than a candy bar. But many energy bars are filled with sugar, saturated fat and artificial ingredients that may put them on par with that candy bar you so proudly passed up. Some energy bars are intended to be meal replacements rather than snacks so be aware that you may be consuming 300-350 calories or more in a single bar.
Gluten-Free or Vegan Foods
Just because a food is labeled gluten-free or vegan doesn’t mean it’s good for you. You can still get just as many calories and just as much sugar or fat as in its non-healthy sounding counterpart, without any additional nutrition. These labels do not automatically equate to nutritious or healthy so read labels carefully.
Whether you make your own or order one out, having a smoothie seems like a healthy decision. After all, most are made with nutritious fruits and low-fat dairy or dairy-free alternatives such as almond milk. But you’ll consume a lot more fruit in one smoothie than you would if you ate the whole fruit and that adds up to lots of sugar and calories. If you want to have a smoothie, stick to a small size or mix in some veggies like kale or spinach instead of so much fruit.