When we go to the grocery store, we often buy food items assuming they are healthy. That can be true if the item is just one of the ingredients, but not when it’s not. The food industry has tricked us into seeing things that aren’t there and not seeing things that are.
Before you spend your hard-earned cash on a “healthy” food item that could be doing more harm than good, check out this list we’ve put together.
Fruit juices are made by squeezing the fruit and removing its pulp so they don’t contain all the fiber in whole fruits. Juices also contain more sugar than entire fruits because it’s easier to extract when there’s no fiber to compete with.
real fruit concentrate that doesn’t contain added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Some brands will list how much sugar is added, if any. If none are listed, it’s best to steer clear since there is no way to tell how much naturally occurring sugar there is in the product (or if there is any).
Energy bars are quick snacks packed with protein and nutrients — but many also contain high levels of sugar or processed ingredients like hydrogenated oils that aren’t so good for your body over time. Instead of relying on pre-packaged energy bars as an afternoon snack, try making your own with whole foods like nuts, seeds, and dried fruit instead.
Frozen meals may seem like a convenient way to get dinner on the table in a hurry, but they’re often high in sodium and fat. Plus, many contain artificial ingredients that aren’t so good for your health. If you’re looking for a better way, try making your own frozen meals instead — they’ll be healthier and tastier than anything you can buy at the store.
Low-sodium chips and pretzels are often made with extra sodium to compensate for the lack of salt. And baked chips may be higher in fat than regular ones because they have less moisture.
These often contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame or saccharin, which may not be safe for everyone — especially children or people with diabetes or heart disease.
When dried fruit is naturally dried without added sugar, it’s a healthy snack. But many brands add sugar or other sweeteners that negate potential health benefits. Look for unsweetened varieties — or better yet, eat fresh fruit instead!
This is one of the most common food traps. You think you’re doing yourself a favor by getting yogurt with fruit mixed in, but it’s often full of added sugars, which can spike your blood sugar levels and make you feel hungry again soon after eating.
The best way to avoid this pitfall is to get plain yogurt and add your own fresh fruit. If that’s too boring for you, then opt for Greek yogurt instead of regular yogurt because it contains fewer carbohydrates and more protein than regular yogurt.
Chicken noodle soup
Chicken noodle soup is one of those foods that seem healthy but can be packed with calories and fat. The main ingredient in chicken noodle soup is chicken broth, which can contain as much as 1,000 calories per cup. If you’re trying to lose weight, you should opt for vegetable-based broths instead.
Salad dressing is one of the worst food offenders regarding calories, fat, and sodium. A mere two tablespoons of creamy Caesar salad dressing has about 100 calories, 10 grams of fat and nearly 500 milligrams of sodium.
Healthier choices include low-fat or fat-free ranch and Italian dressings, which have 30 calories per tablespoon (compared with 85 in Caesar), 2 grams of fat (versus 10), and less than 100 milligrams of sodium (versus 470).
Cereal is a great source of fiber, but if you’re looking for something healthy, stick to whole grains like oats or wheat. Artificial colors and flavors can also be added to cereal without labels because they’re technically considered “processing aids.”
It’s easy to fall for attractive products that are packaged to look like healthy food. But most of us don’t have the time or energy to research every ingredient in the foods we eat, which is why it’s so important to take advantage of resources and learn how to read the labels yourself, without fail.
Bea is a copywriter specializing in adept research and creating all kinds of content. She’s all about getting creative, developing relationships, and contributing to making businesses succeed through her writing.
When she’s not writing (professionally), you can see her binge-watching RuPaul’s Drag Race or writing film reviews on Letterboxd.