By: J. D. Heyes,
As the nation’s collective waistline continues to expand, it has become more important than ever to educate yourself as to what sorts of foods truly are and are not healthy for you, despite what their labeling says or whether they are touted as “healthy.”
That is especially important for snacks that are supposed to be good for you but which are, in reality, not a smart food choice. Here is a list of five of these so-called healthy snacks you should avoid:
Trail Mix — According to Shape magazine, this little treat may be tasty but it’s a food that is not necessarily a bastion of health.
“While plain, natural mixes of unsalted nuts and unsweetened dried fruits can make for a good portion-controlled, high-energy snack, many mixes throw in chocolate chips, loads of salt, and added sugars,” says the magazine. “Since a small handful easily contains 300-plus calories, read your nutrition labels closely.”
The website iVillage put a slightly different spin on what makes trail mix an unhealthy choice. Hint: serving size.
“With ingredients like nuts, dried fruit and a few pieces of chocolate, trail mix can be healthy a choice. The trouble with the trail mix is how much we tend to eat of it, says Rania Batayneh, a certified nutritionist, eating strategist and owner of Essential Nutrition for You in San Francisco,” the site says.
Granola — Having a granola bar is a lot more healthy than having a Twix or a Snickers bar, right? Not necessarily, say some health food experts. In fact, in many cases, depending on the granola bar itself, you might as well be eating a chocolate bar, registered dietician Jennifer Ventrelle of Rush University Prevention Center told CBS Chicago. That’s because many granola bars often have extra sugar and sodium.
Her recommendation for keeping it healthy? Look for more than five grams of protein, fewer than 10 grams of sugar and no more than 150 calories each.
Other experts agree.
“In small doses, granola is super satisfying and can provide many health benefits (it’s high in fiber and unsaturated fats, which lower cholesterol). But add in excess sugar and chow down portions that could feed three people, and this iconic hippie-friendly snack isn’t so wholesome anymore,” says BonAppetit.com.
Beware the canned fruit — A fruit cup or a can of mandarin oranges surely make for good, wholesome snacks, right? Not so fast, warn food experts.
“Canned fruits come with high-fructose corn syrup, and cans are lined with a chemical preservative linked to health problems. Fresh fruit is best. Dried fruits may be convenient, but they’re loaded with sugar, so don’t eat more than 2 tablespoons a day,” CBS Chicago reported, quoting health food experts interviewed for the report.
“Dried fruit is also loaded with sugar and sulfur to preserve them longer on the store shelves. For example, 1/4 cup of unsweetened banana chips can have up to 120 calories,” says BuzzFeed Food.
Muffins are ‘dessert’ — There is a belief that certain kinds of muffins – particularly bran muffins – are somehow good for you. “Muffins are dessert,” says Ventrelle.
A typical muffin, whether bran or blueberry, contains about 27 grams of carbs.
Other experts also note that it isn’t necessarily the ingredients, but the portion.
“Most bran muffins, even those sold at delis and coffee shops, are made with generally healthy ingredients. The problem is portion size,” notes CookingLight.com. “A random sampling of some coffee and restaurant chain bran muffins showed that many topped 350 calories apiece, and that’s before any butter or jam.”
Microwave popcorn — Probably one of the most misunderstood foods in terms of what is and is not healthy would have to be popcorn, and in particular, microwave popcorn. Some brands contain more than four grams of unhealthy trans fats.
“A lot of times they’ll put coating inside of the bags,” Ventrelle says. “They need something to make the popcorn not stick to the bag.”
Adds Shape magazine: “With so many light varieties of microwave popcorn on the market, it’s easy to think that this snack is healthy, but with high levels of sodium and the chemical diacetyl, some health professionals caution about making this a regular snack.”
The magazine recommends putting a few plain kernels in a brown paper bag and popping your own. That way, you control the flavoring.
This article first appeared on Natural News.