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10 "Healthy" Foods That Aren't That Good For You

Certain foods are touted as being healthy but aren't really very good for you. Which foods with a health halo should you be avoiding?

Food companies are geniuses when it comes to marketing, but don’t be fooled by certain foods that have been lauded as healthy — they are often empty calories masquerading as being nutritious options.

Veggie Chips

Don’t let these masters of disguise fool you into thinking you are loading up on your veggies. These cleverly-cloaked “health foods” are nothing more than potato chips with some dehydrated vegetable powder added. To see exactly what “veggies” are in that misleading bag, scope out the ingredient list. Because ingredient lists are organized in descending order — meaning the top of the list contributes more to the actual food and there is less and less of each ingredient as you read down the list — you can get an idea of what the veggie chips are actually made of.

Additionally, when you compare the total calories, fat, and sodium of those veggie chips to regular ol’ potato chips, they might be surprisingly similar — if not higher.

Granola Bars, Meal Replacement & Protein Bars

Many of these bars are just candy bars in disguise, shrewdly marketed as a healthy option. However, the amount of sugar and calories in many of these bars far exceeds what you should be taking in for a snack or a light meal. Of course, some are better for you than others, so be sure to check the label. Look for those that contain whole grains, protein, healthy fats and little to no added sugar.

Pita Chips & Pretzels

Pita chips and pretzels generally have just as many calories as fried chips, including potato chips. And unless they’re truly whole-grain, they offer little nutrition for the calories they provide. If you choose these, select 100 percent whole-grain varieties and stick to the correct portion size (measure it out).


Unless you whip up your own smoothies at home, the majority of smoothies you buy bottled or out of the house are masters of disguise — loaded with sugar and often lacking any actual fruit. Many use full-fat ice cream as the main ingredient, and the fruit flavor comes from sugary syrup — not real fruit pieces.

Rice Cakes

Although they’ve been touted as a dieter’s best friend, rice cakes are nothing more than refined carbs with no protein or healthy fat, meaning they’ll raise your blood sugar rapidly but then leave you feeling drained and even hungrier shortly afterwards. Skip these altogether or at least pair them with peanut butter.

Frozen “Healthy” or “Lean” Dinners

These “meals” are usually incredibly tiny, are loaded with sodium, and leave a lot to be desired when it comes to flavor and texture. They may not be high in calories or fat, but if you have to eat three of them to feel full and satisfied, or you end up overeating later in the day, the plan backfires.


Most people believe that juice is healthy because it is made from fruit. While it is true that juice contains vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, there is a downside. Even if the juice is labeled as 100 percent fruit juice, it still contains just as many grams — if not more — than soda, and it is missing all the beneficial fiber you find in whole fruits. Additionally, liquid foods do not provide the same sense of fullness and satisfaction as solid foods do. A better option? Eat the whole fruit that the juice comes from — the fiber it contains will fill you up fast, keep you full for longer, aids your digestive system and may lower your cholesterol.

Sports Drinks

While we’re on the topic of beverages, skip the sports drinks altogether. Unless you’re a professional athlete exercising at a high intensity for more than 90 minutes a day, you do not need sports beverages such as Gatorade or Powerade for replenishment. These beverages were originally developed for professional football players, who would potentially burn over a thousand calories and lose a great deal of electrolytes through sweat. However, the majority of people exercising or doing daily activities are not burning a ton of calories or losing that many electrolytes. The University of Oxford found that there is insufficient scientific evidence that sports drinks aid in any way to enhanced performance or recovery.


First of all — hummus itself IS nutritious. However, most people eat way too large of a portion. The portion size of hummus is usually two tablespoons, providing on average about 50-70 calories, BUT most people eat a far larger portion of hummus — closer to a cup — which could push the calories well over 400. Consider thinking of hummus as more of a sandwich spread instead of a dip to enjoy its health benefits without taking in too many calories.

Flavored Yogurt

While it is true that yogurt contains beneficial gut-health-promoting probiotics, most yogurts are loaded with sugar — some containing more sugar than a can of soda! Yogurt will contain some natural sugar that comes from the lactose in the milk it is made from, but your best option is to choose plain, unsweetened, unflavored yogurt and add some fresh or thawed frozen fruit to flavor it and sweeten it up.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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