Top 4 healthy foods… that are not!

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Trying to eat healthy often means having to play detective with what you eat. While many foods on store shelves boast their low-fat, low-cal qualities, it takes a second look to discover that sometimes ‘healthy’ foods are not so much.

  • Diet soda

unhealthy foodsIt may be calorie-free, but void of any nutrients that your body needs. In addition to being worthless, diet soda is loaded with aspartame and other ingredients that over time seem to have a negative effect on your heart health.

According to a study reported in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, those who consumed one diet soda on a daily basis 10 years,  increased their risk of heart attack and stroke by 44 percent.

It has also been widely stated that these drinks that promise to keep your girlish figure intact, are actually linked to obesity and weight gain!

  • Granola bars
unhealthy foods

Granola bars are often loaded with sugar or corn syrup, both extremely unhealthy.

How could granola bars be unhealthy? They have whole grains, almonds, bran and oats. However, they are so loaded with sugar  that you might as well eat a Snickers bar and call it a day.

Additionally, compare a Hidden Valley Sweet and Salty Nut granola bars to some of your favorite candy bars. What you may find is disturbing.  There are 170 calories per granola bar, 9 grams of fat and 19 carbs. A regular Hershey’s bar is 210 calories,  13 grams of fat and 26 carbs. Not much of a difference. Some of the other granola ingredients might bring additional health benefits, but in the long run, it makes little to no difference. Try raw almonds and sugar-free dried fruit for a snack instead.

  • “Lean” frozen meals
unhealthy foods

Diet frozen dinners are high in sodium and low in nutritional value. (Shutterstock photos)

These frosty “diet”  foods may actually be contributing to your weight gain for several reasons. For one, they are so low in calories and so small in portions, that you may end up hungry a bit afterwards. If you continue the habit, you’ll end up starving yourself and indulging all of a sudden in a calorie-rich meal or two.

But the biggest problem with the diet frozen foods is that they do not provide you with enough calories or nutrients and they are loaded with sodium. The vegetable portion, for example, is way lower than the recommended 5 servings you need to  prevent cancer and heart disease.

As always, it’s important to look at the the nutrition facts first, before falling for the low-cal marketing ploy on the box.

  • Reduced fat peanut butter

Peanut butter is a great snack to indulge in because it’s loaded with healthy fats, despite the high calorie count. Reduced fat peanut butter though replaces monounsaturated fats with unhealthy sugar, making the classic variety better (as always).

While this short list only takes a small crack at what’s to be avoided at our grocery stores, personal trainer (and dear friend) Mike Vega,  gave me the best piece of advice to avoid confusion (and getting overwhelmed) at the market.  His golden rule:

Shop only the perimeter of the store.  Think about it, everything your body needs is there.  Produce, meats and dairy (if you eat it). The only reason to head down the aisles is for oatmeal, brown rice and toilet paper. Simple as that.

By taking a more proactive approach to your diet by reading labels, avoiding processed foods and remembering that you have the power to change your health through nutritious eating habits, you’ll be able to rid your life from these food criminals for good!

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