Foods That Sound Healthy – But They're Not
(Part 1 of 2)
Eating healthy isn't as easy as it might seem. Food companies have mastered the art of packaging poor choices and making them appear good for you. Here are several products stuffed with excess fat, sugar, calories and questionable ingredients, that you're better off avoiding.
Granola has been called, “a health food” for more than 100 years. In fact, that's what advertisements said about it all the way back in the 1890s. After falling out of favor for a few decades, it made a resurgence in the 1960s when it became popular with the counter-culture movement.
But granola is far from a healthy choice. Pick up a box of Heartland Granola and read the nutrition label. A small half-cup serving of this supposed “health food” packs 240 calories, six grams of fat and a huge 13 grams of sugar. All that's before the calories you get from the milk you pour over the top.
Compare that to Post Fruity Pebbles cereal. A half-cup serving of Fruity Pebbles has less than a third the calories (73), only one-sixth the fat (less than 1 gram) and half the sugar of the supposedly “healthy” granola; and nobody has ever presented Fruity Pebbles as a healthy option.
An even bigger problem with granola is the serving size. I gave a full box to some clients and asked them to pour out what they believed was a single serving. The average person poured a little over one-and-a-half-cups into the bowl. If they ate it (without milk) they would take in a whopping 750 calories and 18 grams of fat. That's more calories than two McDonald's cheeseburgers and more fat than you'll find in a medium McDonald's fries. Not to mention the 39 grams of sugar, more than three-fourths of the sugar a typical person should eat in the entire day.
To make sure you're not picking up a dietary disaster, you've got to read the label. There are brands that are reasonable. One example is Julian Bakery ProGranola. A half-cup serving of that has only 92 calories, about half the fat of the Heartland Granola and no sugar. As a bonus, the ProGranola is packed with 12 grams of protein.
Flavored yogurt comes in convenient snack-size containers and there are dozens of fat-free versions. Unfortunately it's also chock-full of sugar. A small six-ounce container of Yoplait Yogurt with Cherries is stuffed with 19 grams, more than five teaspoons, of sugar.
“But what about the live active cultures yogurt has that are good for me?” Don't worry, you can still get them, just switch to Greek yogurt. Avoid the ones with fruit added and slice up some of your own. A six-ounce container of Nonfat Fage Greek Yogurt has only five grams of sugar. If you cut up and stir in six whole cherries, you still only get half the sugar found in regular yogurt.
Yogurt Covered Raisins
Speaking of yogurt, you should avoid yogurt covered raisins as well. The idea is that covering fruit with yogurt makes it a healthy choice. However, the yogurt they coat raisins with isn't the same thing you find in the dairy section. It's sugar, oil, dry milk and yogurt powder. It's really just a candy coating with yogurt powder sprinkled in to give it the illusion of healthy. Some even have deadly trans fats in them.
Raisins aren't a great choice either. Any time you dry out fruit, like grapes into raisins of bananas into banana chips, you get a lot more calories and sugar into a smaller space. A medium-sized banana has 107 calories and 14 grams of sugar. If you cut that banana up, it will fit into a single measuring cup. But a level measuring cup of banana CHIPS has a whopping 436 calories and more than half your daily allowance of sugar, 30 grams.
If you really want yogurt and fruit, get a piece of whole fruit and cut it up. Then put some Greek yogurt over the top.
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