7 Secretly Unhealthy Foods – Real Simple


This article initially appeared on RealSimple.com. 

You understand how some sneakers are particularly engineered for exercises and others, it seems, are fitted to nothing greater than making trend statements? Well, meals are like that too. Some are dressed as much as appear like they’re good for you when the truth is they’re something however. When you’re attempting to eat properly, it may be maddening when unhealthful impostors—full of sugar, fats, and sodium—undo your good work. Here’s easy methods to spot and cease seven of them.

Energy Bars

Just as a result of they arrive in a tiny package deal that claims they’re loaded with vitamin and minerals, power bars should not essentially a wholesome selection. In truth, “a lot of them are nothing more than glorified candy bars,” says Sari Greaves, RD, vitamin director for Step Ahead Weight Loss Center in New Jersey. “They can be packed with enriched white flour, high fructose corn syrup, and other sweeteners.” Many are excessive in saturated fats, too, and low in fiber. “And for those who eat them in addition to meals,” says Greaves, “that’s an extra 300 to 400 calories in your day, which most of us can’t afford.”

Eat Smart:

  • If you’re changing a meal with an power bar, select 1 with 200 to 300 energy; for a snack, shoot for 150 energy or fewer.
  • Opt for a bar whose ingredient checklist is brief and begins with a complete grain reminiscent of brown rice, entire wheat, or entire oat flour.
  • Make positive your choose meets at the very least 2 of Greaves’s necessities: fewer than 15 grams of sugar, lower than 2 grams of saturated fats, at the very least 3 grams of fiber, and at the very least 5 grams of protein.
  • If you’ll be able to’t discover 1 containing that a lot protein, add it your self: Spread a low-calorie bar with a skinny layer of peanut butter, or take pleasure in a glass of low-fat milk or a chunk of low-fat string cheese with it. “Adding in the protein will help you feel more satisfied longer,” says Greaves.


Given that we use the phrase “granola” to explain wholesome, outdoorsy varieties, it’s ironic that the yummy breakfast cereal is among the least wholesome methods to begin your day. “Most have too much sugar and very little fiber. A healthy breakfast cereal should be the exact opposite,” says Keri Gans, RD, writer of the forthcoming Small Change Diet (to be printed by Gallery Books in spring 2011, amazon.com). With all of the sugar it comprises, only one cup of granola can simply prime out at 600 energy, a 3rd of the common girl’s every day allowance.

Eat Smart:

  • Gans recommends selecting a cereal that has the identical satisfying crunch as granola however comprises extra grams of fiber than sugar. Add a heaping tablespoon of nuts (strive walnuts) and your favourite berry for sweetness.
  • If you simply can’t quit granola, sprinkle a small quantity (lower than 1 / 4 of a cup—that’s how unhealthy it’s!) over low-fat or nonfat plain yogurt with a handful of blueberries or a half-cup of sliced strawberries.


With a lot fruit, how might a smoothie be a nasty factor? Trouble involves tropical paradise when a smoothie’s essential ingredient is fruit juice, which provides energy with out offering any of the good-for-you fiber you get from the fruit itself. What’s extra, some smoothie spots use sugar-loaded sherbet or frozen yogurt to bump up taste. “The average smoothie is going to provide enough calories for a meal—400 to 600—but not satisfy you like a meal,” warns Gans. Which means you’ll be including on the energy later when starvation comes roaring again.

Eat Smart:

  • On the go, go for a low-fat yogurt and a chunk of fruit.
  • At residence, strive Gans’s recipe for a wholesome smoothie: Blend a half-cup low-fat yogurt, a half-cup nonfat milk, 1 serving of fruit (reminiscent of a cup of frozen berries or a frozen banana), and a tablespoon of flax seed.

Vitamin Drinks, Sports Drinks, and Other Sweetened Beverages

A rising physique of analysis means that ingesting added sugar from sweetened drinks will increase the danger of growing persistent illnesses reminiscent of coronary heart illness and diabetes. In truth, the American Heart Association recommends we get not more than 6.5 teaspoons of added sugar every day. But most of us manner outpace that. Between 1970 and 2005 the common American’s consumption of added sugars (cane sugar, beet sugar, excessive fructose corn syrup, honey, or agave) jumped by 20 p.c, and most of that improve got here from drinks. You in all probability eat 22 to 30 teaspoons of added sugar every day, which provides as much as 350 to 475 empty energy daily.

Soda takes lots of the warmth, however the issue doesn’t start and finish there. For occasion, the 20-ounce bottle of SoBe Green Tea gives 15.5 teaspoons of added sugar—only one teaspoon lower than a 20-ounce Coke. And a Minute Maid lemonade of the identical measurement has a half-teaspoon greater than a Coke. Gatorade and Vitamin Water might sound wholesome, however a 20-ounce bottle of both exceeds your every day sugar allowance by 2 teaspoons.

Eat Smart:

  • In eating places, ask for unsweetened drinks—like ice tea—and add in a zero-calorie sweetener reminiscent of Splenda, says Greaves.
  • Look for sugar-free variations of Vitamin Water and lemonade (like good ol’ Crystal Light), and Gatorade’s G2 reduced-sugar drink.
  • At residence, make your personal flavored water, including in sliced cucumbers, oranges, berries, lemons, or limes. Looking for a lift of nutritional vitamins? Pop a multi along with your water.

Fat-Free Foods

They positive sound good, however the issue with fat-free meals, says Greaves, is that “people view them as a ticket to eat more.” Which is very troublesome as a result of while you take fats out of meals, one thing has to switch the flavour—and that one thing is usually added sugar and sodium. The proper sorts of fat are literally important to a nutritious diet, offering taste, lowering the danger of coronary heart illness, and even selecting up your temper, says Greaves. Furthermore, fats may help you’re feeling full; many meals turn out to be much less satisfying with out it, which can lead you to eat extra at your subsequent meal.

Eat Smart:

  • Dairy merchandise, reminiscent of milk, cheese, and yogurt, are usually excessive in saturated fats; select fat-free or low-fat variations.
  • Ditto with commercially processed meals reminiscent of stick margarine and frozen meals, which are sometimes excessive in trans-fats.
  • On the opposite hand, “sometimes one regular cookie is a better choice than eight fat-free cookies,” says Greaves. It could also be extra prone to fulfill you and preserve you from overindulging.
  • Always go along with full-fat, pure peanut butter, which is wealthy in wholesome polyunsaturated fat. Reduced-fat variations exchange them with hydrogenated oils (that are excessive in trans fat) and sugar.
  • Fat-free salad dressings are loaded with sodium and sugar. Instead, combine 2 teaspoons of olive oil with lemon juice or flavored vinegar.


“I’ll just have a salad” has turn out to be the common slogan of the well-intentioned eater, however think about this: Some restaurant chains have salads on their menus that prime out at 1,000 energy. And for those who choose up a premade Caesar-salad equipment on the grocery retailer you would possibly as properly have stopped into Burger King for a Whopper, says Greaves. The truth is, many salads are full of unhealthy add-ins, reminiscent of cheese (100 energy in 4 dice-sized cubes), bacon bits, creamy dressings, and croutons. Nothing towards an enormous bowl of wholesome greens; it’s the corporate they preserve that’s worrisome.

Eat Smart:

  • When you’re eating out, at all times ask for dressings on the facet. Dip your fork into the dressing first, then spear some greens.
  • At the salad bar, skip something that’s blended with mayonnaise, reminiscent of tuna or egg salad. Choose grilled rooster breast, tofu, or a half-cup of chickpeas as an alternative.
  • If you like cheese, mud a tablespoon of grated Parmesan over your salad earlier than consuming, to present it lots of taste with manner fewer energy.
  • Instead of chopped ham or croutons, go for a tablespoon of slivered almonds or sunflower seeds for taste and crunch.
  • At residence, exchange dressing with flavorful recent fruit—reminiscent of pears or mandarin oranges.


With little leaves of lettuce peeking out and slim slices of deli meats, wraps appear to be a stable selection. But the flat breads that give the sandwiches their identify can convey 300 energy to the desk all on their very own, says Marisa Moore, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association in Atlanta. By the time you add in some cheese, chilly cuts, and a ramification, you will be placing away a 700-calorie meal that feels extra like a snack. Plus, wraps are sometimes constructed from refined grains—which implies they don’t provide the fiber you want for a wholesome lunch.

Eat Smart:

  • Check vitamin data, if it’s out there: A wrap fabricated from entire grain is finest. Barring that, search for the selection that’s highest in fiber, which is able to enable you to really feel fuller.
  • Eat solely half of of the sandwich for lunch, with a chunk of fruit and a facet of greens; save the opposite half of for a post-exercise or afternoon snack.
  • Skip the cheese and select avocado (which is filled with heart-healthy fats) as an alternative.
  • Pick Dijon or spicy mustard over mayonnaise.
  • Pile on further veggies, reminiscent of inexperienced peppers, onions, lettuce, and tomatoes.

(Editor references)

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