How healthy are ‘health’ foods?

When rushing in between classes, we often  grab a snack. Many of us try to stick with the healthy alternative. However, are the ‘healthy’ options as healthy as they claim?

Many snacks that are marketed as being ‘healthy’ actually aren’t that much better, than say, a chocolate bar or bag of chips.

The more obvious ones include protein shakes and anything claiming to be low fat or sugar free.

Here’s a list of some surprisingly unhealthy snack foods:

GRANOLA/ENERGY BARS- Most of these bars are like eating a candy bar, with as much as 500 calories. Their small size also leaves you with an empty stomach.

Alternative: Choose bars that have 200 calories or less, with 5 grams of fiber at the least, and some protein, which helps provide energy.

SMOOTHIES- Just because it has fruit in it doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Smoothies can have up to 80 grams of sugar, 350 calories, zero protein, and often times no fresh fruit. Fruit “concentrates” are often used instead. Sorbet, ice cream, and sweeteners can make smoothies as unhealthy as a milkshake.

Alternative: Get the “small”. Ask for fresh fruit, low-fat yogurt, milk, or protein powder to add good nutrition.

ENHANCED WATER- These so-called ‘vitamin’ waters are not only filled with sugar but they don’t even include actual vitamins. Vitamins are commonly added to bottled water and falsely advertised on the front label. But many brands add sugar, taking water from zero calories to 125.

Alternative: Refrigerating tap water can enhance the taste or adding packets of crystallized lemon adds flavor without adding calories.

MUFFINS- Think of them as mini cakes. They have just as much sugar. One muffin can add up to 500 calories with 11 teaspoons of sugar.

Alternative: Get a muffin that’s 100 calories or less and stick to muffins with fruit flavors such as blueberry or raspberry.

LOW FAT GRANOLA- Low-fat granola has only 10% fewer calories than regular granola and has plenty of sugar. Don’t let the ‘low fat’ label fool you.

Alternative: Look for low-sugar, whole-grain cereal instead. To sweeten, top it off with fresh fruit.

CAESAR SALAD- A small bowl has 300-400 calories and 30 grams of fat, thanks to loads of dressing.

Alternative: Use only 1 Tbs. of dressing and 2 Tbs. of tangy, Parmesan cheese.

LOW FAT YOGURT- Yogurt is rich in protein and calcium, however, it contains large amounts of added sugar. Some brands add 30 or more grams of fructose, sucrose, or other sweeteners.

Alternative: Choose a yogurt that has 90-130 calories and that has 20 grams of sugar or less. Avoid yogurt that has fruit on the bottom or blend sweetened yogurt together with plain, nonfat yogurt.

DRIED FRUIT/VEGGIES- It takes more dried fruit to make you feel full, leading to more calories. On top of that, many dried fruits are covered in added sugar.

Alternative: Fresh fruit and vegetables. Fruit already has natural water, which is filling, and vegetables are good for you. Broccoli, for example, has a ton of vitamin C and folic acid, and onions are rich in antioxidants and can help prevent cancer.

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So the next time you feel the urge to snack but want that healthy option, try to shy away from these not so healthy foods and go for the alternative.