16 Foods That Seem Healthy but Aren’t

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You’ve been meticulously reading labels, swapping out your regular snacks for ‘healthier’ alternatives, and patting yourself on the back for your stellar dietary choices. But let’s hit the brakes for a moment, folks.

Are these foods as healthy as they claim to be, or are we falling headlong into a nutritional trap? Let’s find out!

Gluten-Free Snacks

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Many gluten-free snacks are just as high in sugars, fats, and calories as their gluten-packed counterparts. Studies have shown that those little gluten-free cookies, chips, and crackers can come with a whopping calorie count that does your waistline no favors.

Canned Soup

16 Foods That Seem Healthy but Aren’t
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A single serving can contain up to 410 mg of sodium—that’s 18% of your recommended daily intake! Heavens! If you’re going for canned soup, look for low-sodium versions, or better yet, whip up a batch of homemade soup.

Low-Fat Salad Dressing

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These dressings often compensate for the lack of fat by loading up on sugar and sodium. In fact, a two-tablespoon serving of a famous store-bought low-fat Italian dressing contains 2g of fat, 320mg of sodium, and a whopping 10g of sugar!

Green Juice

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Store-bought green juices are often sneakily loaded with sugars to improve taste, with some brands packing as much as 36 grams per 16 ounces! That’s nearly the equivalent of 9 teaspoons of sugar. The daily recommendation is 6 to 9 teaspoons total, so that’s a pretty hefty contribution from a single “healthy” drink.


16 Foods That Seem Healthy but Aren’t
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The American Heart Association recommends women limit their sugar intake to 25 grams per day, and men to 38 grams. Yet a typical serving of granola can pack in 20 grams or more, nearly meeting or even exceeding those limits in one fell swoop.

Whole Wheat Bread

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A closer look at the nutrition label will reveal that many brands contain high-fructose corn syrup, added sugars, and preservatives. While it provides a bit more fiber, the caloric count is often similar to that of white bread.

Diet Soda

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study found that diet soda drinkers have a similar risk of heart disease as their regular soda-drinking counterparts. How’s that for a plot twist? Additionally, diet soda is typically loaded with artificial sweeteners, which can affect your body’s ability to regulate calorie intake. 

Bran Muffins

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A typical store-bought bakery bran muffin can contain up to 440 calories and 15 grams of sugar. To put that into perspective, it’s like eating a slice of pizza and washing it down with a can of soda for breakfast!

Sports Drinks

16 Foods That Seem Healthy but Aren’t
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Sports drinks are often loaded with sugars and artificial flavorings; a 20-ounce bottle can contain up to 9 teaspoons of sugar, nearly the same amount found in a can of soda!


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Margarine is often loaded with trans fats, also known as ‘bad fats,’ which can raise your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower your “good” (HDL) cholesterol levels, contributing to heart disease. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a link between trans fats and an increased risk of coronary heart disease. 

Dried Fruit

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While natural fruit is full of fiber and nutrients, drying can shrink those benefits considerably while concentrating the sugar content. A cup of fresh grapes, for example, has about 60 calories, while a cup of raisins—essentially dried grapes—has a staggering 460 calories.

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Originating from the R-rated tequila plant, it’s often touted as a healthier alternative to sugar. It’s not. Despite its natural roots, agave is highly processed and comes with a whopping sugar concentration of about 85% fructose. This sneaky sweet syrup has a higher fructose content than any other common sweetener, even high-fructose corn syrup.

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Some protein bars pack a whopping 30 grams of sugar—that’s more than a standard Snickers! While they can be an on-the-go solution in a pinch, it’s far better to opt for whole-food protein sources when possible.

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While they’re not deep-fried like their chip counterparts, your average, run-of-the-mill pretzels are essentially refined carbs, stripped of nutrients, with added sodium to boot. According to the USDA, a 100-gram serving of pretzels contains a whopping 385 milligrams of sodium, nearly 17% of the recommended daily intake.

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A shocking amount of added sugars is hidden beneath the layers of sweet fruit flavors and all that delicious creaminess. Some brands cram in as much sugar as your favorite dessert, turning your “healthy” snack into more of a sugary indulgence.

Veggie Chips

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While they may seem like a healthier alternative to your run-of-the-mill potato chip, they often contain just as much fat and calories. Plus, the actual percentage of veggies in these chips can be minuscule.

Fruit Smoothies 

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Yes, fruits are healthy, but when you blend them, you break down the natural fibers that normally slow down your body’s sugar absorption. And let’s not even start on those store-bought smoothies—those guys are often just fruit-flavored sugar water masquerading as health drinks.

Veggie Burger 

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It’s got ‘veggie’ in the name, so it must be healthy, right? Not so fast! Many are made with processed soy and are loaded with sodium and saturated fats to mimic the juicy taste of meat. Plus, let’s not forget about the myriad of toppings, cheese, and that generous dollop of mayo.

Rice Cakes

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Here’s the plot twist – they’re about as nutritious as eating air! Sure, they’re low in calories. But that’s because they’re low in… well, everything. They lack vital proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, you name it.

Skim Milk

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Oh, skim milk, you sly devil. When you strip milk of its fat, you also strip away much of its taste. To compensate, manufacturers often add sugar. It’s a masquerade, folks! Stick to the real thing, in moderation, of course.

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