Friday, April 19

10 Foods That Sound Healthy but Really Aren’t

Let’s talk about foods that sound healthy but aren’t!

As healthy foods continue to sweep the aisles and shelves of grocery stores, it’s essential to look beyond the label. Just because food products have “all-natural,” “low-fat,” fiber-rich,” and “organic” smacked onto them, it doesn’t necessarily mean they get the nutritionist stamp of approval.

In most cases, many of these kinds of foods may not deserve the health status we grant them. You’ve certainly read or heard so many times about certain foods that are super healthy that you can’t see them otherwise. But chances are, these foods aren’t as healthy as you think they are.

Below is a list of foods that sound healthy but aren’t. They are known to promote long-term health, but the truth is that they contain lots of sodium, added sugars, and oils. Let’s get started!

foods that sound healthy but aren't
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1. High-fiber cereals

Including more whole grains in your diet is always a great thing, but high-fiber cereals are among the foods that sound healthy but aren’t. This is because they are infamous for being a sneaky source of sugar. The same thing applies to flavored oatmeal. However, if the label states the cereals have limited to no added sugar, it can be a great option for you.

A better idea would be to add a drizzle of honey or maple syrup to your overnight oats. You can also make your own cold cereal using rolled oats, quinoa, brown rice, and a variety of seeds and nuts.

2. Trail mix

I know what you’re thinking—nuts can’t really be all that bad for you! However, it’s not the nuts themselves that are unhealthy in trail mixes. According to nutritionists, the flavorings that they are coated with increase their sodium and sugar content to sky-high levels, making them one of the foods that sound healthy but aren’t. Otherwise, trail mix is a great healthy snack!

Moreover, many trail mixes are packed with omega-6 polyunsaturated oils that have been heated to high temperatures. This results in the oxidation of fats, like grapeseed, safflower, and sunflower oil. Some trail mixes you find in grocery stores also have candy-coated chocolates, which, depending on their amount, may also cause a blood sugar spike and dip.

If you want to get the true benefit of a high-protein, high-fiber snack, try making your own! It’s more affordable, and you can choose the ingredients you like, such as hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, almonds, Brazil nuts, unsweetened coconut flakes, goji berries, etc.

3. Granola and protein bars

At first glance, many granola and energy bars look like they are great healthy snacks on the go. They have nuts, rolled oats, chunks of fruit, and maybe even some dark chocolate. What’s not to love, right?

However, when you flip their labels over to have a look at the ingredient list, you quickly realize lots of them contain hydrogenated oils and high-fructose corn syrup. In other words, granola and protein bars are foods that sound healthy but aren’t.

Many highly processed foods, like cookies, cakes, and diet soda, have high-fructose corn syrup. This syrup, like all added sugars, may contribute to type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, weight gain, and cardiovascular disease if eaten as part of your daily routine.

Aim to find a bar option with a short list of wholesome ingredients you could pick from your kitchen, like whole nuts, whole seeds, eggs, dates, eggs, dried fruits, and coconut oil.

4. Yogurt parfaits

Another example of foods that sound healthy but aren’t is yogurt parfait. When you’re at a cafe, yogurt parfaits may seem like the healthiest option among the pastries and donuts. While this is true, most parfaits contain sweetened fruits (basically, fruits coated with syrup) and top them with granola, which is usually high in sugar and honey. The sugar quickly adds up.

It’s no surprise that your stomach may be asking for food an hour later. The spike in blood glucose ultimately causes a sugar crash, which may leave you feeling low in energy or a little lethargic yet reaching for more quick treats.

Keep reading to discover other foods that sound healthy but aren’t!

soy milk
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5. Sweetened soy and nut milk

Whether you’re lactose intolerant or not, you may think that plant-based milk are a good substitute for cow milk. Think again, because these milk alternatives are among the foods that sound healthy but aren’t.

Many store-bought soy and nut milk are often high in added sugars and contain carrageenan, a food additive from red seaweed used to thicken or emulsify the milk. While it may sound harmless, carrageenan has been found to increase the risk of glucose intolerance and stomach ulcers.

So what we’d recommend is to get the unsweetened, carrageenan-free plant-based milk instead.

6. Veggie spreads and dips

Just because that chip dip contains hints of green, it doesn’t mean you can rely on it for your veggie count of the day. While artichoke and spinach dips and cucumber spreads seem like they are your best options on the cocktail platter, they are often foods that sound healthy but aren’t. This is because they may be packed with saturated fats from mayo, sour cream, cream cheese, and other cheeses without additional nutrients.

Keep in mind that being fat isn’t bad. But choosing whole foods that have healthy fats and extra nutrients like minerals and vitamins could be an easy swap. As a healthier alternative, try basil pesto, hummus, other bean-based dips, cashew cheese, sweet onion dip, and cashew kimchi dip.

By the way, if you no longer have meal ideas, here’s a cooking book with plenty of recipes!

7. Ready-made bottled smoothies and protein shakes

Some of these pre-made beverages have about the same amount of sugar and artificial sweeteners you can find in slushies, sodas, and milkshakes, so you can include them on the list of foods that sound healthy but aren’t.

But not all protein shakes are this way; there are many protein powders you can use to make a protein shake so affordably and easily at home. Just choose your favorite plant-based protein mix and a milk of your choice, and you’re good to go.

8. Vegan, organic, or gluten-free snacks

Once and for all, just because a food is organic, gluten-free, or vegan doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the best option. In fact, many organic, gluten-free snacks and vegan desserts are foods that sound healthy but aren’t, as they’re filled with just as many empty calories as their counterparts.

Often, reaching for a whole vegetable or fruit like carrots or apples can make for just as great of a snack on the go. Add in a protein shake, hard-boiled eggs, or a handful of nuts, and you have a good mix of protein, healthy fats, fiber, and carbohydrates.

frozen foods
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9. Frozen convenience foods

Diet foods are low in calories, but they are also low in vitamins and actual nutrients. Not to mention that they have high levels of sodium, fillers, and harmful preservatives. In other words, frozen convenience foods are often foods that sound healthy but aren’t. If you do opt for these, try the reduced-sodium and organic options.

If you take a peek at the label, chances are you’ll find added sodium and ingredients you could find in your kitchen to make that meal. Try batch cooking, where you can make large portions of soups and smoothies and freeze them to enjoy them throughout the week.

10. Veggie burgers

Last but not least on our list of foods that sound healthy but aren’t: veggie burgers. Most commercial veggie burgers contain highly processed soy and preservatives. A far better choice is to pick veggie burgers with whole foods, like whole grains, beans, and seeds.

Making homemade veggie burgers is also easy and fun, and you can make a large batch to freeze half and keep the rest for the week ahead of you. This is a wonderful way to use those leftovers in the refrigerator and vegetables you’ve been meaning to get around to.

If you liked our article on foods that sound healthy but aren’t, you may also want to read 10 Things Sugar Does to Your Body.

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