9 More "Healthy" Foods to Skip

There’s a lot more to making nutritious choices than meets the eye.

January 26, 2022

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Fresh yogurt served in a clear glass bowl


Fresh yogurt served in a clear glass bowl

Photo by: Elena Elisseeva

Elena Elisseeva

We’re saying "healthy" because there’s a lot more to making nutritious choices than meets the eye. Lots of foods present themselves as healthy when they’re anything but. On the other hand, eating too much of some good-for-you foods can get you into trouble too. We started off with an original list of nine, but there are plenty more foods to watch out for.

Whole-Grain Bagels

It’s still a high-calorie bagel, even if it’s made with whole-grain ingredients. Plus, some bagels advertise "whole grain" but are only made with a small fraction of whole-grain flour, so they’re lacking the healthy nutrients whole grains are known for. A whole-wheat bagel on occasion is fine, but if you’re watching those calories, you’re better off with a slice of bread — you’ll save more than 300 calories!

High-Fiber Yogurt

Yogurt doesn’t naturally contain fiber, no matter what the clever commercials say. Companies add synthetic versions that up the fiber count and these impostors don’t have the same health benefits as the real stuff. Get the facts on fiber and learn how to spot more of the faux varieties — buyer beware!

Drinks with "Servings of Fruits and Vegetables"

When it comes to food, if it sounds too good to be true, it is! While slurping your produce may sound like a good idea, you’ll be missing out on important nutrients like fiber and numerous vitamins. To make matters worse, these beverages are often loaded with added sugars, jacking up the calorie count. Opt for a small portion of 100% fruit juice for the occasional sip, but real fruits and veggies are the way to eat your daily dose.

Frozen Diet Entrees

While you are promised a wholesome meal in a microwave-ready tray (doesn’t that just seem sketchy already?), you’re usually getting vastly processed ingredients and an excessive amount of sodium. Check the laundry list of unpronounceable ingredients; it’s about as far from wholesome as you can get.

Breakfast Cereals Labeled "Whole-Grain"

Even sugary kids cereals come plastered with seals of approval and check marks proclaiming they are made with whole grains. Most of them average less than one gram of fiber and 3 teaspoons of added sugar per cup — and who eats just a cup?! Always read the side panels on boxes for the real nutrient facts.

Fat-Free Cheese

Fat-free versions of cheeses like American, Cheddar and mozzarella contain more chemicals and stabilizers than cheese — not exactly a healthier option. They also contain double the sodium to make up for the lack of flavor. Stick to low-fat and part-skim cheeses or smaller portions of flavorful full-fat cheese to get all the flavor while keeping the calories and fat in check.

Snack Mixes

We’ve given you tips to make your own trail mix. If you keep ingredients simple and portions modest, you can’t go wrong. Problem is, many of the premade mixes come chock-full of high-calorie ingredients, like yogurt-covered this and chocolate-dipped that, and fried bits of who knows what! Keep your eye on those ingredient lists to make the smartest choice.

Baked and Fat-Free Chips

Baked chips certainly sound better for you. While they are lower in fat, they have more sodium, sugar and almost as many calories as the regular version. The fat-free types may be even worse thanks to the indigestible additive Olestra.

Chicken Sausage

Chicken seems like the obvious choice over pork and beef sausages, but the lower-fat content of chicken means that chicken sausage needs lots of extras like sodium and sugar to compete in the flavor department. Pay close attention to the ingredients; chicken sausages marked "fully cooked" tend to be the worst offenders. Fresh (raw) chicken sausages take longer to cook, but the improved nutrition facts are well worth it.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. She is the author of four cookbooks First Bites: Superfoods for Babies and Toddlers, The Healthy Air Fryer Cookbook, The Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook and Healthy Quick and Easy Smoothies.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

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