Many people eat healthy foods that aren’t healthy, but they don’t know it.
These “healthy foods” are promoted and marketed as healthy, but there are many hidden ingredients, like sugar, excess sodium, or unnatural chemicals. Those are not things we want to put in our bodies, especially if we’re trying to live a healthier life.
Healthy foods that aren’t healthy, are just tricking us, when we’re just trying to better ourselves. Food companies want their products sold, and they’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen. Even lie a little bit.
So, I’ve done tons of research on the top healthy foods that aren’t healthy, and compiled this list to help a friend out! Let’s educate ourselves, learn how to read food labels, and make informed decisions when it comes to choosing food for our health!
Here are the top 20 healthy foods that aren’t healthy.
Flavored yogurts mostly. It’s not as healthy as society makes it out to be. It’s got a lot of sugar in it, which is highly inflammatory to our bodies.
A container of strawberry yogurt has 13g of sugar, which equals about a little over 2.5 teaspoons. The recommended sugar intake for women is no more than 6 teaspoons per day.
Greek yogurt has a lot of added sugar too, the only thing that makes it a better choice than regular yogurt is that it has a lot of protein.
What to eat instead: plain Greek yogurt with fresh fruit and honey
Another sugar culprit. Yes, this includes granola bars.
On average, granola contains anywhere from 5g to 15 plus grams of sugar. That’s just in ¼ cup, which is a standard serving for granola. I don’t know about you, but that definitely is not going to fill me up!
And everyone’s favorite granola bar, the chewy bars! They have around 7g per bar. Plus, the bars are not big at all.
What to eat instead: Try a bowl of Rice Krispies or regular Kix.
Low fat salad dressing
You eat a salad to be healthier, but loading it down with low fat or fat free salad dressing is kinda doing the opposite.
Unfortunately, these so called “healthy” salad dressings are not healthy, and they’re loaded with unnatural ingredients.
Ew. I see monoglycerides (AKA trans fat), and MSG! So not healthy.
I know, you want to lose weight, or just live a healthy life, but please choose a full fat dressing. Preferably one that is not full of gross stuff. And the fat in the dressing will contribute to satiety and you will feel satisfied for much longer.
What to eat instead: olive oil and vinegar, OR a store bought dressing like Tessemae’s.
Frozen diet meals
Well, most of them.
Okay, I am the person who enjoys a Lean Cusine from time to time. They’re convenient and tasty!
Here comes the but,
..they’re high in sodium and preservatives. Not something you want to be putting in your body regularly. Also, they’re not very filling. Have you noticed how small the servings are? I know that I’m hungry again shortly after eating one!
They can be very helpful in a pinch, and if you do end up eating one, no big deal! Life gets busy sometimes, I get it. Just practice moderation.
What to eat instead: a home cooked meal! Cook extra so you can have leftovers. Or meal prep weekly.
But if you absolutely must have a frozen meal, stash a few of these bad boys in your freezer.
I was a diet soda addict for YEARS! I’m telling you that it was one of the hardest habits to break. But I’m so glad I did!
Diet soda has zero calories, yes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy.
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that can cause some adverse health effects. Some experts claim it can cause so many diseases and some dispel those claims. So if you’d like you can read up on some studies and learn more.
My personal opinion? I do believe it can cause those diseases, but only if consumed in heavy amounts. If you drink one diet soda a day, I think you will be fine.
But, artificial sweeteners like aspartame can actually make you crave more sweets and you’re likely to end up snacking more often.
Phosphoric acid is used to make soda tangy. But it has been linked to bone loss.
What to drink instead: Water! Okay okay, how about some Zevia?
Hello sugar! That’s why dried fruit tastes sooo sweet. You’ve got added sugar on top of natural sugar. Well, that kinda defeats the purpose of eating fruit, for the most part. (If you’re going to eat dried fruit or candy, choose the dried fruit!)
When you look at a package of dried fruit, the second ingredient is probably sugar. Remember, women should get no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar daily.
Well, one serving of dried pineapple meets that recommendation. That’s a lot of sugar, might as well eat candy! But actually,
What to eat instead: Choose a dried fruit without added sugar, always check the label! Or how about, you know, eat some actual fruit?
Most people choose margarine because it has less fat that butter, and that is true. It does.
Many common brands of margarine still contain trans fats, even if it says 0g on the label. Take a look at the ingredients list. If it contains any of the following ingredients, it has trans fat:
Partially hydrogenated oil (the big trans fat culprit)
Monoglycerides and diglycerides (likely has some trans fats)
And the FDA has stated that no amount of trans fat is safe for consumption. So keep that in mind when you’re craving toast with margarine.
What to eat instead: Real butter or olive oil
Low carb snacks
Prepackaged snacks are what I’m talking about. You know, the ones marketed for people on keto, or just living a low carb lifestyle.
These treats contain high amounts of chemical ingredients and sugar alcohols, because they can’t use sugar. Sugar increases the amount of carbs, duh, because that’s all sugar is. A simple carbohydrate.
Sugar alcohols can cause all kinds of tummy troubles, like excess bloating and diarrhea.
The also contain artificial sweeteners, like sucralose, which can be inflammatory.
What to eat instead: Berries, nuts, cheese, or veggies.
This one could go either way. You just have to pay attention to the packaging and food labels and know what you’re buying.
Many canned fruits have added sugar and are drenched in heavy syrups. If you’re going to eat some canned fruit, make sure it’s packaged in water or juice, or has no sugar added.
You’re also getting less vitamins and fiber from canned fruit, this is due to the canning process itself.
What to eat instead: Fresh fruit
Aka, fake sugar.
Artificial sweeteners are chemically made to be very sweet. Most of them are way sweeter than sugar is naturally.
Remember how I said aspartame an make you crave more sugar? (In the diet soda section) Well the same thing applies to all other forms of artificial sweeteners. Getting artificial sugar out of your diet will help keep cravings away.
Be on the lookout for aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, acesulfame potassium, and neotame.
Stevia is on the fence with this one. It comes from a natural spice, the stevia plant, but is processed with ethanol.
What to eat instead: Coconut sugar, honey
More hidden sugar. On average, pasta sauce contains about 13g of sugar. Take a look at the ingredient label. One of the first few ingredients is sugar! And it’s in a product that isn’t even sweet.
It’s also high in sodium, 500mg give or take for one serving.
What to eat instead: Look for brands low in sodium and without added sugar. Or you can make your own sauce with crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, spices, and herbs.
Many believe that smoothies are healthy because it’s mostly fruit. Fruit is very healthy, but you can have too much of a good thing sometimes.
If you order a smoothie from a local shop, you’re probably getting way more than a standard serving size of fruit. Plus, any juices that are used adds more calories on top of that. So all of that means you’re getting a lot of extra sugar, than you definitely don’t need.
Also, blending can destroy fruits healthy fiber.
What to eat instead: Whole fruits, or make your own smoothie with a serving of fruit, spinach, coconut water or almond milk.
Juice is high in sugar. Sometimes there’s added sugar, sometimes there’s no added sugar. It depends on the type and the brand of juice.
No added sugar sounds better and a lot more healthy, but is it really? The sugar comes from fruit, but in an 8oz glass of apple juice, that’s the sugar from roughly 3 apples.
Just eat an apple. You’re getting a dose of healthy fiber along with it, so don’t worry about the sugar content of a single apple.
What to drink instead: Try Hint Water!
Low fat or fat free foods
The diet industry has tricked us into thinking these foods are healthy when they’re really not. Years ago, fat free and low fat everything was all the rage when it was believed that fat was bad for you. Well, now we know the truth, and fats can be amazing for you! (The healthy ones of course)
Low fat and fat free foods are naturally tasteless, so food companies add something to them that will make them taste better. Usually it’s sugar, salt, or more unhealthy chemicals. So you’re really not doing yourself any favors by eating them.
What to eat instead: Full fat versions
Sugar free treats
Like sugar free candy. I used to think that because a candy is sugar free that means I can eat as much as I want. No, no, no!
Sugar free does not mean calorie free. You’re still getting carbs. You’re still getting calories. And sugar alcohols. Remember, they make you bloated and can give you the runs. Not fun.
So unless you’re a diabetic, just stick with regular candy. In moderation of course! A weekly treat is perfectly fine.
What to eat instead: Full sugar versions in moderation.
If you order veggie burgers when eating out instead of regular burgers, you might be fooling yourself into thinking it’s healthier.
Veggie burgers are not actually any better for you than the meat versions. Their calorie and saturated fat content is not very different from each other.
They’re also much higher in sodium.
So the nutrition is very similar, just keep that in mind when you’re thinking of grabbing a veggie burger.
What to eat instead: A lean beef burger or a veggie burger! The choice is yours, just be aware they’re very similar!
Another product leading people into thinking it’s healthy just because it’s made with vegetables.
An 8oz bag of potato chips has per serving:
- 160 calories
- 10g fat
- 15g carbs
An 8oz bag of veggie chips has per serving:
- 140 calories
- 7g fat
- 18g carbs
You can see they’re very similar, give or take a few grams of carbs and fat. This means that veggie chips aren’t necessarily healthier.
What to eat instead: Whatever chips you like, just in moderation.
Sweetened milks, like some almond mills, coconut mills, are high in, you guess it, sugar. Vanilla almond milk has around 12g added sugar. Unsweetened vanilla almond milk has 0g added sugar.
Pay attention to the label and always choose unsweetened versions.
What to drink instead: Unsweetened nut milk, or regular whole milk.
There are many different kinds of jerky on the market, and some of them contain MSG, which can cause multiple health issues.
Jerky is another sneaky product that has added sugar. You wouldn’t think it contains sugar, but it does because sugar is used to cure the meat. And then, it’s loaded down with salt.
But there are a few kinds of jerky that are acceptable, just remember to read the label.
What to eat instead: Jerky with low sugar and sodium, and without MSG.
I’m not talking about the pre-bagged salad greens, I’m talking about ready to eat salads you can pick up at grocery stores, convenience stores, etc.
And it’s not necessarily the salad that you should avoid, it’s the dressing that comes with it. Many of them are super high in fat, sodium, have added sugars, or MSG.
What to eat instead: Any salad of your choice, but with a healthier dressing.
So, now you know! These healthy foods that aren’t healthy can’t fool you anymore! Arm yourself with this knowledge next time you go shopping, and you’ll be walking out of the grocery store completely confident that you really made healthy choices!
Which food completely took you by surprise? Let me know in the comments!
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