8 “Health Foods” That May Not Be So Healthy

The food industry is an ever-growing business, with billions of dollars poured into making new food items each year. All of these options can make navigating the grocery store increasingly tricky because some foods are not as healthy as they appear — let’s take a look at 8 so-called “health foods” that may not be so nutritious after all.

1. Granola and Granola Bars
For decades, granola has been touted as a “hippie” health food — which it may have been back then! Now, granola is often high in sugar, processed oils, and calories. One serving of Nature Valley Oats & Honey Granola contains 15 grams of added sugar, and each Quaker Chewy Yogurt Granola Bar contains 10 grams.

2. Acai Bowls
Despite its abundance of healthy-looking fruit and fancy toppings, acai bowls are essentially sugar bombs in a bowl, containing up to 60 or 70 grams! While some of that sugar comes from healthy fruit, it’s often blended with juice or sherbet to increase the sweetness.

3. Smoothies
Similarly, premade smoothies from smoothie bars or the grocery store are excessively high in sugar. Make sure to read the ingredient list before you order, as many stores blend their smoothies with frozen yogurt, sherbet, or juice — instead, order it blended with milk or water.

4. Protein Bars
We are a protein-obsessed culture, with most people thinking they always need to be eating more. The reality is most people do just fine with how much protein they eat and don’t need protein bars or shakes. Plus, these “meals” are often highly processed, contain artificial sweeteners and colors, oils, and thickeners.

5. Sports Drinks
No matter what the commercials show, you likely do not need to replenish your electrolytes with a sugar-laden drink each time you exercise. (If you are a professional or endurance athlete, that’s a different story.) These sports drinks often contain as much sugar as soda, with up to 40 grams per bottle!

6. Gluten-Free Snacks and Desserts
Some people undoubtedly need to eat gluten-free, but others think that the term “gluten-free” signifies a healthy item, no matter what. The fact is, gluten-free brownies are still brownies, and gluten-free pretzels are still pretzels. Some processed gluten-free snack foods and desserts contain even more calories and added sugar than their gluten-filed counterparts.

7. Vegetable Oils
Oils like canola, soybean, and the mysterious “vegetable oil” have been touted as healthier fat options for decades. But the truth is these oils are highly processed and contain too many omega-6 fats, which creates an unhealthy ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in our body. To balance it out, eat less of these oils and more omega-3-rich fats, like fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseed oil.

8. Breakfast Cereal
Even if you choose the “whole grain” versions over the ones with cartoons on the front, many breakfast cereals are still very high in carbohydrates, and most (not all) have added sugar. Even cereals marketed as “heart-healthy,” like Honey Nut Cheerios, still contain 12 grams of added sugar per cup (and most people don’t eat just one cup.) Instead, look for cereal with no added sugar and at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.

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