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Avoid These Health Food Imposters

It's Halloween season. Find out which foods are just masquerading as healthy.

Not all of the foods we think are healthy actually are! Here are some more of those perceived “healthy” foods and why they may not be the best choice.

1.) Jumbo Muffins and Bagels

What is faster than grabbing a bagel or muffin and coffee and heading on your way? Not much, but you might want to consider how many calories that bagel or muffin is setting you back. 

  • Panera’s cinnamon crunch bagel has 420 calories, 6g saturated fat, and only 2g of fiber.
  • Bruegger’s whole wheat bagel may provide you with 9g of fiber, but with about 400 calories it is equivalent to about 4 slices of bread!  You also get 28 percent of your daily sodium intake (680mg).   
  • Think that Starbucks Blueberry muffin sounds like an easy and healthy breakfast? With 500 calories, 19g of fat, and only 2g of fiber, you’d be better off making time for a bowl of fiber-rich cereal topped with fresh blueberries. 

2.) Granola

Granola often contains oils, including coconut oil (high in saturated fat), sugar, nuts, and other high calorie add-ins. This all adds up to a very high-calorie, high fat breakfast food or snack. Just a modest half cup portion can set you back 300 calories and up to 15 grams of fat, with just three grams of fiber. In comparison, a cereal such as FiberOne has just 60 calories and 14 grams of fiber per half cup.

3.) Ready-To-Eat Cereals

Breakfast cereals are supposed to be good for you, and a few still are, but most are so highly processed and sugared that they might as well be thought of as desserts. Virtually all breakfast cereals are enriched with vitamins and minerals, which may lead you to think that they are healthy.

Additionally, many companies now make their cereals with rather miniscule quantities of whole grains so they can flash this “feature” across the front of the box. Keep in mind, though, that the term does not mean high fiber. Likewise, a cereal that is high in fiber may not contain many whole grains if it contains mostly isolated fiber.

What to look for: a short ingredient list, at least four grams of fiber per serving, and little or no added sugar. If a cereal has whole grains as the first ingredient and then sugar as the second or third ingredient, put it back. High-fiber, whole grain cereals can make a fine breakfast if you know which ones to choose and which to avoid. Also, be cautious—food companies are notorious for getting medical and health organization’s endorsements to tout the supposed health “benefits” of their cereals. 

4.) Yogurt

While yogurt is often thought of as the epitome of a “health food,” watch out. In its most natural state, yogurt can be quite healthy, but with today’s multitude of yogurts on the market, you need to know what to choose. Today you can find yogurts sweetened with added sugar, honey, molasses, lactose, fructose, fruit concentrates, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, and other artificial sweeteners. You’ll find yogurts with candy sprinkles, cookie bits, or granola. The “fruit” yogurts often contain no real fruit at all—just fruit concentrates. Yogurts marketed to kids have an array of artificial colors to make them appealing to that age group. Your best bet to get the health benefits originally intended: find a plain, nonfat yogurt with live cultures. Add in your own real fruit or a sprinkle of brown sugar and enjoy!   

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