10 Health Foods That Are Actually Making You Fatter
Sometimes we think we're doing our bodies good when we're actually not. Misleading marketing or the temptation to over-eat foods that are nutritious when — and only when — consumed in moderation are the most common culprits. (See also: Is "Health Food" Worse for You Than "Junk Food"?)
But you're in luck, because we're here to help with our list of 10 foods commonly consumed in the name of health, but may actually be destroying it. So read on! Your waistline will thank us.
1. Fruit Juice
Next time you pour yourself a big glass of juice, think about this: a 16-ounce bottle of orange or apple juice has the same amount of carbs as five slices of bread. That's because many juice brands contain more flavored sugar water than actual fruit juice. Some leading juice brands don't contain any fruit. Zip.
Needless to say, you're much better off eating your daily servings of fruit than trying to drink them. Otherwise, you might as well wash down that healthy breakfast with a can of soda.
2. Protein Bars With Ridiculously High Sugar Content
Rule of thumb: Read the nutrition label before you take a bite. This goes for most foods, but especially protein bars. A quick look at the label will help you determine whether your health-food bar isn't really just a candy bar in a deceiving package. That's because, unless it's organic, many protein bars are full of artificial, filler ingredients and sky-high sugar content.
Opt for bars by Kind, Larabar, and Quest if you want real, healthful ingredients.
3. Fruit and Nut Mix
A handful is about all you get in a serving of fruit and nut mix. But the stuff is so good that in a single sitting we're apt to eat much, much more. The main ingredients aren't exactly optimal, either. Dried fruit is packed with up to eight times more calories as fresh fruit. That's because dried fruit is dehydrated, more dense, and sometimes coated in added sugar. Fresh grapes, for example, have 60 calories per cup while raisins have 430. And, yes, nuts are a great source of protein — but they're also fatty.
Try opting for a fruit and nut bar instead. This way you won't run the risk of accidentally chowing down on four portions at a time.
Avocados are packed with vitamins, minerals, and… lots of fats. Healthy fats, but fats nonetheless. In fact, about 85% of the total calories in an avocado come from fat. Now, before you give up on this delicious, green fruit, remember that avocados are extremely healthy — in moderation. But if you overindulge, you're likely to start packing on the pounds. Even healthy fats can cause weight gain when over-consumed.
Even the so-called "healthy" breakfast cereals are loaded with sugar and refined carbs. A bowl of that in the morning will shoot your blood sugar level to high heaven. The only direction from there is down. You're bound to crash two to three hours later. And when you do, your body will be craving another shot of sugar and refined carbs. It's a vicious cycle that does no good for your overall health.
But that doesn't mean you should skip what's known as the most important meal of the day. Eggs, fruit, and oatmeal are all examples of healthful morning meal options that will keep you feeling fresh and alert without that mid-morning crash.
6. Commercial Salad Dressing
For those of you who are inclined to fix a salad that tastes more like the dressing than the actual salad, consider your attempts at healthy-eating to be officially backfired. The majority of dressings available at grocery stores are loaded with absolute crap ingredients like vegetable oils and high fructose corn syrup. No matter how many healthy veggies you've got mixed in there, with dressing like that, you're not doing your body any favors.
If you can't ditch or significantly reduce your consumption of store-bought dressings, it's about time you started making your own dressing from scratch. This way you'll know exactly what ingredients you're using to drown out your greens. (See also: 5 Best Homemade Salad Dressing Recipes)
7. Gluten-Free Junk Foods
A cookie's still a cookie — gluten-free or not. That's because the absence of gluten in a food product doesn't make it one lick healthier than it's gluten-friendly counterpart — though many consumers have been led to believe otherwise. The reason for the recent rise in popularity of gluten-free products is the surge in gluten allergy or gluten intolerance diagnosis. But there's absolutely no health benefit to jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon if you haven't been diagnosed with an allergy or intolerance yourself.
So don't forget that a gluten-free muffin contains just as much fat as a regular muffin. Unfortunately, there's no such thing as a healthy muffin. It's really just a repurposed slice of cake.
Despite the vast nutritional benefits of this protein-packed alternative to red meat, there are a slew of tofu dishes that aren't exactly portraits of healthy eating. Tofu that's been prepared in a deep frier, for example, is merely a calorie-rich version of an otherwise low-fat, low-cal food. And beware of tofu that's been slathered with high-cal marinades or sauces. You wouldn't qualify a caramel apple as a health food, would you?
9. Veggie Burgers
Anything made of vegetables is healthy, right? Not necessarily. A veggie burger is still a burger, and can contain more than 1,000 calories when loaded with toppings and a bun.
The vegetables in these patties undergo a good deal of processing, a process that zaps much of the nutrients. And many veggie burgers based not in vegetables but processed soy, which lacks the fiber and omega-3's that make soy healthy in the first place. Studies show processed soy can also lead to hormonal imbalance.
Yes, veggie burgers can be healthy alternatives to hamburgers. You just need to know what to look for. Check the label for brands with fewer than 10 grams of protein. That's a pretty good indicator that the patties are based in vegetables rather than soy since soy-based veggie burgers typically contain more than 10 grams of protein.
Beware of this sneaky bread alternative. Many of these sandwich wraps can pack as many as 300 calories all on their own — and that's before you add those meats and veggies. A typical wrap can be up to a foot long, and if you coat that entire canvas with mayonnaise and other spreads you're very likely doubling the number of condiment calories you'll consume than if you were to make a sandwich on two slices of bread. Plus, wraps are commonly made from refined grains, which don't give you the fiber you need for a healthy lunch.
Are you still eating any of these unhealthy "health" foods?