The Worst 'Healthy' Foods

Posted Mon, Oct 06, 2008, 12:55 pm PDT

If you want to lose weight, it may seem like a good idea to trade candy bars for granola bars or to swap bacon and eggs at breakfast for the classic bagel (it’s shaped like a zero; how bad could it be?).

Sadly, it’s just not that simple. Customers’ nutrition knowledge is rising, so food marketers are desperate to attract the right kind of attention from the eating public. So they’re twisting nutritional buzzwords to trick us into eating the kinds of foods that can actually help make us fat. We need to be more careful than ever to make sure we’re feeding ourselves and our families the very best real health foods — not sugar-infused calorie bombs disguised as weight-loss foods.

Read up for our latest batch of dietary phonies. They may look good on the front label, but they’ll get you in the end if you're not careful.
Granola Bar
200 calories
15 g sugars
Eat this instead!
1 oz cheddar cheese with Triscuits
150 calories
5 g sugars
Ever wonder what keeps a granola bar together? The answer: high-fructose corn syrup, which quickly raises blood sugar and cancels out most of the potential benefits the granola almonds and oats might give you. Switch over to good old-fashioned cheese and crackers, and you trade sugar and calories for protein and
fiber. It's a big deal that will make you smaller, as will steering clear of the sugar bombs. By the way, these are the most sugar-packed foods in America.

Yogurt with Fruit on the Bottom
190 calories
30 g sugars
Eat this instead!
Plain yogurt with fresh fruit mixed in
110 calories
15 g sugars
Pass on these over-sweetened yogurt cups; they contain as much sugar as a soft drink. Almost all of that comes directly from the “fruit,” which is swimming in high-fructose corn syrup. Yogurt and fruit can be a great way to start your day, but do it yourself by mixing a cup of nonfat plain yogurt with a half cup of mixed berries.

Bagel with Cream Cheese
700 calories
40 g fat
13 g saturated
Eat this instead!
Cheese omelet
425 calories
18 g
6 g saturated
Bagels are bogus. The bread is bad enough, containing 300 calories and 60 grams of carbohydrates, but tack on the liberal cream cheese schmear (by our survey of popular breakfast chains, up to 4 ounces for a single bagel!) and your "harmless" breakfast sandwich weighs in as worse than a Whopper. The omelet swap will save you nearly 300 calories, plus provide a surge of metabolism-boosting protein. And a recent study from the University of Connecticut found that eating eggs can help raise
HDL (good) cholesterol. And while you're being vigilant, watch out for the 20 Unhealthiest Drinks in America!

Dried Fruit
175 calories
45 g sugars
Eat this instead!
Fresh fruit, like an apple or a peach
70 calories
15 g sugars
OK, so dried fruit won’t totally derail a day of good eating (unless you down the whole bag of banana chips), but it’s far from being a harmless snack. First, because the dehydrating process sucks most of the volume from the fruit, you can eat cups of the stuff, and 600 calories later, still not feel any fuller. More troubling, though, is the fact that Sun-Maid and Ocean Spray add sugar to the fruit, making Craisins closer to candy than Mother Nature’s original intention. The choice is clear: Stick to the original, straight from the tree.
Fish Sandwich
600 calories
30 g fat
11 g saturated
Eat this instead!
Grilled chicken sandwich
300 calories
13 g fat
4 g saturated
Fish is good for you, except when it’s battered, fried, robed in cheese, and bathed in tartar sauce. The lesson? Even the biggest star can be sabotaged by the supporting cast. To this end, avoid any menu item with the word "crispy," the restaurant industry’s favorite euphemism for “fried.” Make sure your next fish or chicken sandwich is grilled, dressed with fresh produce, and topped with a low-cal barbecue sauce, or even ketchup and mustard. And watch the salt;
these 20 foods are the saltiest in America!

Stick margarine (1 Tbsp)
100 calories
11 g fat
2.5 g saturated
2.5 g trans fat
Eat this instead!
Whipped butter (1 Tbsp)
50 calories
6 g fat
1.5 g saturated
In their haste to remove saturated fat from butter, margarine makers created the margarine monster — a dangerous lipid called trans fat, with more dangerous links to heart disease than saturated fat. Pick up whipped butter instead; by whipping air into the spread, manufacturers decrease the caloric density of a tablespoon of butter, and they make it easier to top your toast. If you buy margarine, make sure it’s the type found in the tub, hopefully with an added bonus like omega-3s folded into the mix.

When eating out, make these 15 top restaurant swaps to avoid caloric disasters. And check out our definitive restaurant report card to identify the best places for healthy eating at fast food and chain restaurants throughout America. 

Eat better at home, too. Shop for the 125 healthiest supermarket foods in America.

Keep your kids happy and healthy with twists on these 10 favorites.

Look here for
17 foods that women should be eating to stay fit.

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by Frances M. McCrory-Meservy