Yogurt parfaits, prepared salads, and dried fruit all seem healthy, right? Sadly, many foods that are marketed as “healthy” really aren’t that good for you. That’s why it’s important to always check the ingredient labels on the back of each food package to make sure that there are no hidden ingredients or surprises. It has also become very popular for food packaging to contain popular buzzwords that deceive a consumer into making a purchase. You may recognize words like “protein-packed,” “all-natural,” and “whole-grain,” just to name a few. Although these buzzwords may sound healthy, with some further investigation, you may be shocked to find out that they’re not so good for you.
Let’s take a look at some deceiving foods that seem healthy but aren’t!
1. Multi-Grain Bread
Crusty Whole Grain Bread/One Green Planet
At first glance, multi-grain bread may seem like a healthier and more nutrient-dense alternative, and it is marketed as so. However, it’s not as healthy as many people think it is. If you take a closer look at the ingredients list, unbleached enriched wheat flour is usually the first one listed. The word enriched means that the grains have been stripped of their nutrients during processing and then eventually added back to make up for the deficit. You want to avoid the word enriched altogether when choosing a healthy bread option. Instead, look for the word “whole-grain” or “whole-wheat” as the first ingredient listed on the packaging.
2. Vegetable-Themed Snacks
Mini Veggie Cucumber Wraps With Avocado Hummus/One Green Planet
Vegetable-themed snacks such as veggie chips and cauliflower puffs are often time marketed as healthier alternatives to classic fried potato chips. But are they that much better for you? Many of these vegetable snacks are highly processed, high in fat, and sodium, and will never be able to replace actual fresh veggies! However, that is not to say that there are no great veggie-themed snack options on the market. As long as you pay extra attention to the nutritional labels and ensure that the ingredients are minimal and natural, they are perfectly fine in moderation!
3. “Healthy” Cereal
Chocolate Puffed Cereal/One Green Planet
Many kinds of cereal in the aisles of a supermarket seem to be promoting the latest health and nutrition trends, but are they as healthy as they seem? It turns out that many kinds of cereal are loaded with sugar and refined carbs. Added sugar is one of the worst foods in our modern diets, and can even contribute to several chronic diseases. Starting your day with a highly sugary cereal is not optimal for your health. Instead, try and look out for cereal that is low in added sugar, and high in fiber, It’s also a smart idea to ignore the buzz words on the packaging and skip to the ingredients list!
4. Energy Bars
3-Ingredient Energy Bars/One Green Planet
Many energy bars claim to be healthy, but the reality is that they are oftentimes loaded with added sugar, and fat, and are not so different from candy bars. This is especially true for the ones coated in chocolate. You also want to watch out for misleading buzz words like, “added fiber” and “brown rice syrup“. The packaging doesn’t guarantee that an energy bar will be nutritious. Instead, when looking for the healthiest energy bars, you want to stick with ones that have minimal, and natural ingredients that you can recognize!
Sunflower Muesli/One Green Planet
Whether you’re eating granola on its own, in an energy bar, or sprinkling it on top of yogurt, most granola is very high in sugar and fat content. Very often, they are coated in some sort of sweetener (sugar, molasses, honey, and corn syrup) and are then baked in oil. It’s also a snack that’s very easy to overeat. Muesli is a much healthier option than granola and is usually made with more wholesome ingredients and without all the excess oil and sugar.
Yogurt Power Bowl/One Green Planet
Although yogurt is generally assumed to be a nutritious snack, it’s a good idea to look beyond the packaging and marketing and study the facts of the ingredients list. Many yogurt products that come in countless flavors are not as they seem to be. Many store-bought yogurts contain artificial colors, flavors, artificial sweeteners, as well as thickeners such as pectin.
7. Pre-Prepared Salads
Raw Kale Salad/One Green Planet
Pre-bagged salads seem to fly off the shelves in supermarkets because of their convenience and ability to cut down meal prepping time. They often contain a range of different kinds of lettuce and raw veggies and can come with their own salad dressing. But how do these quick salads compare in nutrition to homemade salads? First of all, we know that all produce slowly loses nutrients once harvested. However, packaged salads take extra time to prepare and must be washed multiple times before they go on the shelves compared to a head of lettuce. This extra process that packaged salad goes through “can cause a loss of vitamins that are water-soluble and sensitive to oxygen, such as vitamin C and the B vitamin folate.”
8. Dried Fruit
Dried Fruit Compote/One Green Planet
Fruit that’s dried is often lacking the water-soluble nutrients that fresh fruit contains. This means that when it’s dried, it becomes significantly more calorie-dense and very easy to overeat. It’s also higher in sugar with each serving. Some varieties of dried fruit also have a sugar coating that you should watch out for! Common dried fruits contain 38–66 percent sugar, and eating too much of them may contribute to weight gain and various health problems. However, dried fruit is perfectly fine in moderation!
When you’re strolling through the aisles of a supermarket, the most important thing to keep in mind is to always make sure to look at the big picture when determining if a product is healthy. Instead of focusing on the eye-catching buzz words or the colorful packaging, take a closer look at the nutrition label. One or two healthy ingredients don’t always guarantee that food is good for you. And when in doubt, you can always make plant-based versions at home in your kitchen!
- 15 Healthy, Plant-Based Fiber-Rich Items to Find at Your Local Grocery Store
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- Understanding Plant-Based Fats and Healthy Consumption Tips
- 5 Magical Ways to Enjoy Healthy Cacao Beans
Learn How to Cook Plant-Based Meals at Home!
Reducing your meat intake and eating more plant-based foods is known to help with chronic inflammation, heart health, mental wellbeing, fitness goals, nutritional needs, allergies, gut health, and more! Dairy consumption also has been linked to many health problems, including acne, hormonal imbalance, cancer, and prostate cancer, and has many side effects.
For those of you interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest plant-based recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.
Here are some great resources to get you started:
- Weekly Vegan Meal Plans
- Plant-Based Health Resources
- Plant-Based Food & Recipes
- Plant-Based Nutrition Resources
- The Ultimate Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition
- Budget-Friendly Plant-Based Recipes
- High Protein Plant-Based Recipes
- Plant-Based Meal Prep
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