Yogurt and nuts are always healthy options, right? Not so fast. When you’re stocking up on nutritious snacks at the grocery store, be aware of these 10 seemingly good choices with hidden unhealthy qualities.
- Flavored low fat/fat-free yogurt – Yes, fat-free yogurt is great for you…when it’s the plain kind. Flavored yogurts have a lot of added sugar and artificial ingredients that almost negate the fact that they have a lower fat content. You’re much better off buying plain yogurt and sweetening it yourself with natural ingredients like fruit, honey or agave syrup.
- Pre-made smoothies – Like flavored yogurts, bottled smoothies can contain far more ingredients than just the fruits and veggies you would put in at home. Sure, they’re convenient and easy to take on the go, but they’re just not worth the extra calories for no added nutritional value. Make your own smoothies so you can control what goes into them.
- Multigrain bread – Wait, isn’t multigrain supposed to be healthy? While it certainly can be, this is simply a matter of incomplete labeling: “multigrain” doesn’t tell you whether the grains used are whole or refined, and refined grains don’t have anywhere near the nutritional value of whole grains. When in doubt, stick to breads that say “100% whole wheat” to make sure you’re getting the most nutritional bang for your buck.
- Roasted nuts – Nuts are a great source of protein and healthy fats, but the tons of salt and/or sugar that pre-roasted nuts are coated in doesn’t do you any favors, health-wise. Buy them raw and pop them in the oven at home for a healthier alternative.
- Dried fruit – It’s great for baking, but between the added sugar and preservatives in dried fruit and the fact that you can easily eat several times the normal portion size in one sitting, fresh fruit wins out every time. If you love snacking on dried fruit, click here to find out how to do it yourself at home.
- Trail mix – We just mentioned that pre-packaged roasted nuts and dried fruit really weren’t all that great for you. A combination of the two in the form of trail mix just might be worse! If you make it yourself from all-natural ingredients, you’ll avoid the unnecessary additives in store-bought trail mix.
- Granola bars – Although they can be a great on-the-go snack, granola bars made our list of foods to DIY instead of buy because of the scary list of unpronounceable ingredients that come with a lot of brands. If you are buying granola bars, try to look for ones that contain whole grains like oats and don’t contain a lot of sugar (Kashi snack bars are a great example: just 6 grams in their Trail Mix Chewy Granola Bar!)
- Reduced fat peanut butter – “Reduced fat” usually means “reduced taste,” which in turn means additives in other areas to make up for it. More often than not, you’re getting a lot of extra artificial ingredients and sugars, so just go for the full-fat version and eat a tiny bit less. Better yet, make your own with a food processor and a bag of peanuts.
- Veggie chips – Don’t be fooled by “veggie” in the name: veggie chips are still chips. Because they’re usually fried or otherwise processed, you’re not reaping the same benefits you would from eating regular whole vegetables.
- Fruit juice – I sound like a broken record with this “added sugars” thing, but seriously…too much sugar is NOT GOOD! Any fruit drink that has less than 100% fruit juice contains extra sweeteners that can have negative impacts on your health, including increased risks for diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Eating a piece of fruit is the best option, but you could invest in a juicer, or stick to all-natural full juice products.
For more foods that seem healthier than they really are, visit Shape.com.
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Did any of the foods on this list surprise you?