Top Ten Foods You Think Are Healthy But Aren't (And What to Eat Instead)
New year, new resolutions to exercise more and eat better to achieve a healthier lifestyle. These are worthy goals, of course, but many people don't realize they're sabotaging their attempts at healthy living with food and drinks that masquerade as nutritious but actually aren't. Sneaky little devils.
Eating better is often a simple matter of reading labels and nutrition information to figure out exactly what's in whatever it is you're ingesting. Many products purport to be healthy when they're actually packed with sugar, preservatives and other chemicals. Instead, aim for the fewest ingredients possible, and eat the real stuff instead of faux health food.
Here are some primary offenders.
10. Fat-free anything Let's just make one thing clear: Fat-free does not mean calorie-free. Fat-free foods still have calories, and generally, they ain't good ones. When food chemists take the fat out of something, it has to be replaced by something else to add more flavor. Unfortunately, that something else is usually sodium and/or sugar. People also tend to eat more of something that's fat-free, because it sounds healthier. Instead, practice moderation. One chewy, full-fat cookie is going to be a lot tastier than five of those non-fat hockey pucks some companies pass off as cookies.
9. Flavored yogurt You know how many yogurt companies print "real fruit" on the cup, as if actual things that grow out of the ground are supposed to be mind-blowing? That's because A). Most fruit-flavored yogurt is chock full of artificial flavors, so any hint of actual fruit is a good thing, and B). They want you to think it's healthier as a result. It's not, because it's packed with sugar, preservatives and usually food coloring. Yogurt should have two ingredients: Milk and active cultures. If you want fruity yogurt, buy plain yogurt and add fruit. It tastes better, because there aren't any weird chemicals or preservatives in it, and it's much healthier.
8. Energy bars If you must eat an energy bar, think of it like a candy bar. It's an indulgence or a sweet snack, not a meal replacement. Energy bars are loaded with sugar, and most of them are also packed with enriched white flour, saturated fats and corn syrup, in addition to the few vitamins the wrapper touts on the front. Additionally, a small energy bar isn't likely to fill you up for long. Lara Bars and Kind Bars are made with mostly nuts, and the sugar is kept to a minimum. When you need a burst of energy in a hurry, try those instead.
This story continues on the next page.Next Page
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Houston dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.