Not-So-Healthy 'Health' Foods
Some foods you think are good for you may not be all they seem
Too Much Of a Good Thing? continued...
While no one has even established an upper limit for unhealthy trans fats in
our diets, the general thinking is that anything over 2 grams a day is cause
for alarm. And just four servings of a "trans fat-free" food containing
0.5 grams can get you to that limit.
The way to get around it says Heller, is to look for "hydrogenated"
or "partially hydrogenated" oils in the ingredient list -- a sign that
a product contains some trans fat, regardless of what's on the front label.
Even if your food choice is a totally healthy one, sometimes Sandon says
there can be simply "too much of a good thing." She cites fruit juices
as an example.
"If you're drinking 100% orange juice, you think you're doing something
great for your body by getting a lot of vitamin C, but your body can only
absorb so much and beyond that you're just loading up on excess calories,"
If you want to ensure you're eating healthfully, don't just read the front
product label. Flip it over and read both the ingredient list and the nutrition
label, and pay attention to serving size. Then prioritize each food according
to your own health concerns.
Says Klein: "There is no one perfect 'health' food for every person, so
look for the foods that have the most benefits for your specific health
10 Foods That Can Fool You
While good food choices may vary from person to person, the experts we
talked to help compile a list of some of the potentially unhealthiest
"healthy" foods. Of course, in each category there are most likely some
individual products that are good. Always check labels to find the best of the
- Packaged cereals. Check for excess sugar and sodium, and a lack of
- Multigrain or seven-grain products. Unless the label says "whole
grain," you're not getting full benefits.
- Deli foods. Even "fresh" turkey or chicken breast can be
loaded with sodium, while salads are frequently made with high-fat mayonnaise
and other unhealthy oils.
- High-energy bars and drinks. In many instances, the "high
energy" claims come from the high level of calories -- most from sugar and
- Cereal bars. Many contain no fiber, lots of sugar, and substantial
- Low-fat or no-fat dairy products that replace fat with fillers.
Fillers can jack up carbohydrate loads and increase sugar content, which can be
a problem for some folks.
- Granola bars or cereal. Many contain saturated fats (from
ingredients like coconut), sodium as a preservative, and lots of sugar.
- Trail mix. Containing things like chocolate chips and sugared fruit,
most types weigh in at whopping 190 calories for a couple of ounces, and won't
keep you full for very long.
- "Trans fat-free" cookies, crackers, snack chips, and baked
goods. Check portion sizes and look for hydrogenated oils on the ingredient
- Soy milk, chocolate-covered soy nuts, soy bars. The buzzword here is
soy, which can indeed be healthy. But many of these products also contain lots
of sugar and fat.