Nutrition is a complicated beast. Between counting calories, varying vegetables and proteins, and balancing vitamins, it’s easy to get lost or fall into marketing traps at the grocery store. That’s why we decided to debunk the most common misconceptions about so-called “healthy” foods and give you the real deal, straight from nutritionists.
1. FLAVORED YOGURT
Don’t fall for a “fat-free” label. If yogurt is pre-flavored, it’s riddled with too much sugar — upwards of 15 grams (4 teaspoons) per 6-ounce cup. Stick with protein-packed Greek yogurt and add a drizzle of honey or fresh fruit to sweeten it up slightly.
2. WHEAT BREAD
Wheat bread is actually fantastic. But what you have to watch out for here is misleading labeling. Unless a bag of bread says that it is made with “100 percent whole wheat,” it would very well be white bread mixed with a bit of wheat for marketing, Shape.com points out. Look for at least 2 grams of fiber per slice, which ensures that it’s a healthy loaf.
3. SKIM MILK
“Skim dairy isn’t healthy and it’s not good for your weight,” Lauren Slayton, MS, RD, and founder of Foodtrainers, told Eat This Not That. Once you cut all the healthy fats from milk, it becomes much less satiating. Instead, drink low-fat or full-fat dairy or almond milk.
4. LIGHT SALAD DRESSINGS
Loaded with sugar and sodium, store-bought dressings in general are a bad choice. But the “light” versions are the worst culprits of artificial ingredients, additives, and preservatives. Your best bet is to drizzle your greens with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.
You may as well be eating cookies. “Don’t fool yourself into thinking one ingredient makes something healthy,” Miami clinical nutritionist Dr. Michael Forman told Eat This Not That. Instead of sugary, buttery oats mixed with a few dried berries, put seeds or nuts on top of your yogurt.
6. ENERGY BARS
The same principle applies to granola and energy bars. Most are loaded with sugar, fat, and artificial ingredients — they’re better compared to dessert than energy-boosting or a smart breakfast choice.
Watch what you’re adding to the blender. Popular fruits like bananas and berries can push your daily sugar intake well over the recommended limit of 25 grams, Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD explained. What’s more, once you start blending and juicing fruit, you destroy its fiber, which helps your body balance out all that sugar. You’re better off munching on a whole apple or orange.
8. VEGGIE CHIPS
The actual vegetable and nutritional value here gets totally squashed one you put them in chip form. Anything processed like this — no matter if it’s been baked or fried – will always pale in comparison to raw vegetables.
9. DRIED FRUIT
We’ve got bad news if your go-to snack is dried mango or cranberries: “Raisins, apricots, prunes, dates, and figs are really the only dried fruits that don’t have sugar added to them during the drying process,” Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD.