5 Healthy Foods that Aren't

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5 ‘Healthy’ Foods That Aren’t
Posted by Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD at 7/19/2008 2:14 PM EDT
A few hours into a long flight the other day, the passenger sitting next to me asked me a question I sometimes dread, “So, what do you do for a living?” I can’t imagine being anything other than a nutritionist – it truly is my passion and I love it, but once I utter those words, people around me tend to become a little self-conscious about what they’re eating and drinking. I get it. I drive much more slowly and carefully as soon as I spot police car. I’m definitely not the food cop type, but I think some people feel like I’m going to whip out a nutritional citation. In this case, the man on my right responded with, “Look, I’m eating healthy!” He wasn’t asking for my opinion so I didn’t give it, but he was actually eating a collection of pseudo-healthy foods. Here’s what I mean:

Diet soda - it may seem like the perfect way to save calories and slash your sugar intake but studies show that diet drinkers actually weigh more than regular soda drinkers. For diet soft-drink drinkers, the risk of becoming overweight or obese tied to a 2 can a day habit is 57% compared to 46% for regular soda drinkers. Diet soda may throw off your natural appetite regulation, causing you to eat more sweets. It may also trick you into thinking it’s OK to indulge in high calorie foods because you “saved” by choosing diet soda.

Pretzels - the label may shout ‘fat free’ and seem like a better
alternative to chips, but they’re made with refined white flour stripped of its vitamins and antioxidants. They’re also dense so they pack a ton of carb calories for a very small amount and they’re not filling. Think of it this way - one 15 oz bag contains the equivalent of 24 slices of white bread.

Spinach wrap – I’m talking about the wrap itself here. It looks green and good for you but spinach powder is only a scant ingredient. These wraps are typically made from refined white flour and the green hue primarily comes from food colorings (Blue No. 1 and Yellow No. 5.). In other words you can’t rely on the immune boosting vitamins A and C found in fresh spinach and it’s much higher in calories. One cup of cooked spinach provides 65 calories, 105 less than a spinach wrap, which doesn’t count as a veggie serving. Not to mention the fact that the fillings often include ingredients like fried chicken, Ranch dressing, cheese and bacon!

Blueberry scone - even a trans fat free wild blueberry
scone packs over 400 calories (the amount an entire meal should supply) and over 50% of the maximum amount of artery-clogging saturated fat intake for an entire day. They also don’t count as a serving of fruit and they’re devoid of dietary fiber.

Vitamin water - yes it has vitamins, but at up to 200 calories per bottle (50 per serving with 4 servings per jug), just one of these a day can cause a 20 pound weight gain in a year’s time if the calories aren’t burned off.

Bottom line: that old saying, ‘All that glitters isn’t gold’ really holds true with food as well—all that appears healthy isn’t!

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