Just because an item is labeled “reduced fat” or “made from all-natural ingredients” does not make it healthy.

Every week at the grocery store, there is some new product on the shelf screaming, “I AM HEALTHY!! BUY ME!” But just because an item is labeled “reduced fat,” “no saturated fat,” no high fructose corn syrup,” or “made from all-natural ingredients,” does not make it healthy. Likewise, some items that have been around since the beginning of time – that have huge health benefits –have recently been labeled as “no-no’s” for no good reason. Are any of your favorite foods on these lists?

Most unhealthy “health” foods:

1. Granola

High in calories and (sometimes) fat, granola is usually filled with lots of sugar in addition to the whole grains. Measure out your portion size in advance or your serving of granola could easily turn into a day’s worth of calories.

2. Vitamin Water or other sports/energy drinks.

Again, most of these drinks are just flavored sugar water claiming to give you an energy boost or increased sports performance. Unless you are a competitive athlete, you can stick to plain water during your workouts.

3. Margarine.

margarine

For all that is sane, just use real butter! Margarine is just a bunch of chemicals made to taste like butter and, when it’s all said and done, a tablespoon or margarine is doing more harm than of butter, and it doesn’t taste nearly as good.

4. Veggie chips.

By the time these “veggies” hit the shelf, most of the good-for-you stuff has already been cooked (read: processed) out. In summation, veggie chips carry about as many nutrients – sometimes fewer – than regular potato chips. Steer clear.

5. Dried fruit.

Similar to veggie chips, many dried fruits have already lost their nutritional value. In addition, many packaged dried fruits have added sugar. Opt for the real thing whenever possible. The natural water in fresh fruit also fills more space in your belly so you end up eating less.

6. Smoothies.

That smoothie you just got at the corner café has fruit and vegetables in it, so it’s healthy, right? Maybe. Many smoothies pack more calories than a steak dinner. Make sure your smoothie is being made with REAL fruits and vegetables (not JUICES) and doesn’t have any hidden ice cream or syrups. (Hey, it happens!)

7. Fruit juice.

fruit juice

Again. Just another word for sugar. If you have a craving for juice, first, avoid anything with the word “cocktail” on it. Second, choose 100 percent juice by not just trusting the front of the packaging. READ THE LABEL. If there is anything other than oranges, apples, grapes, mangos, apricots, whatever fruit you’re looking for … put it back.

8. Protein or low carb bars.

When choosing nutritional bars, look for ones with low-fat, low-sugar, and high-protein content. Many bars in the “health food” aisle are basically candy bars. Again, READ THE LABEL so you know what you’re getting.

Surprisingly not bad for you … (IN MODERATION)

1. Potatoes.

This comfort food staple comes with huge health benefits, including antioxidants aiding in digestion and assisting in bone health. At about 161 calories for the average spud, it is not the potato itself that is unhealthy; it is the way it is prepared.

2. Full fat cheeses.

cheese

Again, in moderation, cheese is an excellent source of protein! Just watch your portion sizes. A serving of cheese is equivalent to a one-inch cube.

3. Red meat.

Red meat is extremely high in iron and protein. Eaten in moderation (and with the right preparation) it can for sure have a place in a healthy diet. Just don’t expect a cheeseburger every night.

4. Bread.

Oh bread … the food everyone loves to hate. Repeat after me: bread is not the enemy. Admittedly, white, processed bread such as hamburger and hot dog buns and sandwich bread carries little nutritional value, but a lot can be said for the whole grains found in others. In 2019, you can even find bread with as much protein as a glass of milk.

5. Eggs.

Far too often eggs are associated with high cholesterol, but if you don’t have high cholesterol to begin with, chances are the egg you eat with breakfast every day isn’t going to put you over the edge. If you are worried about cholesterol, opt for egg whites instead.

6. Bananas.

banana

No one ever became overweight eating too many bananas. Yes, they have sugar – natural sugar – which binds to the fiber in them. It is NOT the same as eating a candy bar and also contains high amounts of potassium. Eat. The. Banana.

7. Cow’s milk.

I admit, I jumped on the alternative milk bandwagon, too … and then I realized that cow’s milk has way more protein and – typically – less fat and added sugar than almond, soy, and coconut milk. If you don’t have a reason to NOT drink cow’s milk, opt for the real thing. It does a body good.

8. Frozen vegetables.

Fresh is definitely best, but who has time to cut their green beans into cute little one-inch pieces all the time? If you can’t buy and/or don’t have time to deal with fresh veggies, frozen veggies are a great, healthy option since they are usually picked and frozen right at their freshest point.

What other traditionally “healthy” foods are out there that may not be all they’re cracked up to be? Similarly, has someone told you something is “unhealthy” and you’re not quite sure why? Leave it in the comments below!