There’s a lot of misconceptions out there when it comes to healthy foods. Here are five foods that aren’t as healthy as you think:
This may be a no-brainer for some people, but muffins (especially bran) seem so wholesome it’s hard to remember the amount of sugar and vegetable oil they often contain.
The calorie count on your average commercial muffin can be astounding – anywhere from 400 to 600 calories! And all of these calories pretty much all come from flour, sugar, and the kind of fat that’s worth avoiding. It’s best to think of store-bought muffins as muffin-shaped cake. They are one of the last bastions of trans fat consumption.
Homemade muffins vary widely in their healthiness, depending on how they are made. However, truly nutritious muffins – low sugar, gluten free, or made with beneficial fats like coconut oil or real butter – can easily be made at home.
2. Frozen Yogurt
When it comes to dairy desserts, frozen yogurt has a reputation for being much more virtuous than ice cream. Sure, it’s true that it’s lower in fat. But the sugar content of frozen yogurt can be higher than old-fashioned ice cream and the calorie count not far off either. Plus, many popular frozen yogurt chains offer self-serve toppings (candy) that we wouldn’t typically put on ice cream, even sundaes. Since yogurt seems healthier we often justify heaping on the gummy bears and cookie pieces.
When treating yourself to something cold and creamy, opt for a single scoop of regular, full-fat ice cream, sans toppings of course. The fat keeps you full and satisfied longer, and also helps balance the glycemic impact of the sugar.
Nothing says “health food” like granola. It epitomizes the notion of healthy fare to the point that the word has become an adjective for the most hardcore of healthy lifestyles. Alas, most commercial granolas pack a big glycemic punch by being loaded with sugar. They can even contain trans fat. Ditto for the perennial lunch box favorite which is the granola bar.
When scanning the nutrition facts of granola, be aware that the portion sizes listed on the label can be deceptively small. If you crave granola, shop for it in your local health food store and read labels carefully, or make your own.
What? Salad? Okay, not all salads. I’m talking about fast food salads. More burger alternatives at fast food places seemed like a big step forward for healthy eating on the go. But then we realized that many of the salad options have as many calories, fat and/or sugar as the vilified sandwiches. The problem, of course, is often the dressing, which may be loaded with sugar and unhealthy vegetable oils. So forego the fast food salad and opt for a grilled chicken wrap instead.
5. Premade Smoothies
Smoothies can be a great way to pack a lot of nutrition into a quick breakfast or lunch. Unfortunately the popularity of smoothies – especially among time-crunched parents looking for fast, kid-friendly meals – has lead to the advent of pre-made frozen smoothie mixes. Newsflash, these mixes aren’t as healthy as their homemade inspiration as added sugar and other surprising ingredients are often lurking.
You can make your own premade smoothie packs by combining single-serving amounts of your favorite smoothie ingredients into small freezer bags. When it’s smoothie time simply add your favorite liquid, a scoop of protein powder and blend!