13 Foods You Thought Were Healthy But Can Be Surprisingly Bad For You

7 minute read

There always seems to be a list of healthy foods to eat for those wanting to get in shape or just to improve their overall well-being. What happens when those foods you thought were healthy turn out to be the opposite?

The truth is that there are a number of so-called healthy foods that you eat with good intentions, but they are not as good for you as you might think.

Not-So-Healthy Foods

1. Smoothies

Almost everywhere you go, smoothies are advertised and praised as easy ways to get daily doses of fruits, vegetables, and essential vitamins. This is only true when you make your own smoothies with fresh ingredients.

Most of the smoothies you purchase will definitely contain some element of nutrition, but they’ll come with a whole bunch of sugar too. Combined with the natural sugars in the fruits used, you can end up easily consuming over 1,000 calories in one smoothie.

2. Fruit Juice

As an alternative to processed beverages, fruit juices are a better option. However, you need to be careful just how much juice you drink. Even when real fruit is used to make the juice, the processing of it into a liquid form reduces the overall fiber content and increases the natural sugar content.

There’s no need to avoid fruit juices altogether, just make sure to drink small glasses.

3. Dried Fruit

Just as the fresh versions of your favorite fruit are full of fiber and antioxidants, so are the dried versions. Drying the fruit doesn't add calories or sugar, but you do lose the water content.

Dehydrated fruit shrinks in size and is not as satisfying, so you end up eating much more. In doing so, you end up consuming more sugar and calories, making it better to stick with the fresh versions instead.

4. Couscous

Despite couscous being raved about in the health scene, it really is just refined wheat and has no more nutritional value than a bowl of pasta. If you’re a fan of couscous, then switch to a whole wheat version to get more nutritional value, better yet switch over to quinoa, and you’ll receive greater benefits.

5. Diet Drinks

They have the word “diet” in them, but it doesn’t make them good for your diet. The popularity of diet drinks comes from the promise of lower caloric intake. And while this is true, you end up getting more than you bargain for. The additives and flavorings included in diet drinks offer no nutritional value and studies have found that after drinking these beverages, you end up craving and eating more food.

6. Energy Bars

Promoted as the go-to resource for healthy individuals hitting the gym or trying to curb hunger,  on the surface energy bars appear to be a healthy option. Once you look inside, however, you find that they contain as many calories as your favorite chocolate treat. You may get high levels of fiber and protein, which is good, but, when you also get large amounts of sugar and flavorings too, the nutritional value decreases.

If you want a protein-rich snack, a better choice would be chicken or yogurt.

7. Frozen Yogurt

Yogurt is a well-known health food, so many think that the frozen treat version is just as good for you. Frozen yogurt does have less saturated fat than ice cream, but the sugar and calorie content are about the same.

8. Fat-Free Yogurt

Another version of yogurt that is thought to be healthy is the fat-free variety. The fat may have been removed, but sugars, flavors, and additives have been added, which decreases the overall nutritional value.

The best option is to get fat-free, naturally low in sugar Greek yogurt, and then add your own flavors, like honey or fresh fruit.

9. Granola

Granola contains oats and is praised for being a healthier breakfast option than most cereals. The average serving of granola delivers more fat and sugar than you would think, which may not be the greatest snack for your health.  

10. Muffins

Muffins are thought to be a better option than doughnuts and croissants, but they are really not that much better when you take a closer look. While they may not be dusted with sugar or filled with chocolate, they do contain refined carbohydrates and sugar, delivering more calories than you might expect.

11. Ramen Noodles

Noodle bars are replacing hamburger joints all over the world, yet ramen noodles are not as healthy as you might think. Traditional white noodles are full of fat and carbohydrates, and the broth is often filled with fatty meats and salt.

12. Multigrain Items

Bread, crackers and assorted snacks often come in multigrain varieties. The thought is that more grains mean better health. Boasting that an item is multigrain, however, can be deceiving. More than one grain could be present, but that second grain may only be a tiny amount, or the best part of the grains may not be used. When you choose whole grain options, you can be sure you’re getting the nutrients found in the grain’s kernel.

13. Rice Cakes

Many people who are dieting eat rice cakes as a snack because they’re believed to have fewer calories and carbohydrates than other snacks. While they do have a very low calorie count, they also have a very high glycemic index and almost no nutritional value. What you end up getting from these tiny pieces of cardboard is a short-lived sugar rush and no boost to your health at all.

| Related: 9 Delicious Foods That Are Actually Low on the Glycemic Index |

The Bottom Line

With all the healthy-looking packaging and the persuasive spin of advertising, it is easy to be fooled by so-called healthy food options. In many cases, these foods contain certain health benefits, but many hidden factors decrease overall nutritional values.

Knowing the facts will help guide you towards healthy foods. When you know what to avoid, you can certainly eat your way to better health.

READ NEXT >>> The 7 Heart-Healthy Foods You Need to Eat