The knowledge of healthy foods and drinks is something that’s spread like a wildfire. You can see more and more people around you changing their unhealthy lifestyle choices to healthier ones, hoping to be fit. So, instead of reaching out for a bag of chips, you go for something good, like nuts, and make it a habit. But, how healthy is this choice of snack food?
Healthy foods, like all other products, aren’t good for you if eaten in large quantities or regularly. It’s all about moderation. While eating healthy is the right way to protect your body from illnesses and chronic diseases, knowing what you are eating is equally important. Here is a list of a few foods that are assumed to be healthy but may not be if consumed in excess.
1. Granola Bars
Granola bars may seem like a perfect choice for a healthy breakfast or snack, especially if you are running out of time. However, they may be junk foods in disguise. Most granola bars available in the market are made up of nuts and dried fruits, which are usually healthy. However, they are dipped in sugar syrups and may contain additives to increase their shelf life. One granola bar, of approximately 33 g, contains 11 g of sugar, which is quite high!1
Instead of purchasing store-bought granola bars, snack on a homemade version. It’s healthier because you are in control of the ingredients and can make it as healthy and nutritious as you want. Remember not to go overboard with the nuts as they can add to your weight.
2. Protein Bars
If protein bars are your idea of snacks, know that some bars may contain as much as 400 calories.
Protein bars are nutritional supplements that can help you gain or lose weight, depending on your requirement. Eating a protein bar in between meals can control your appetite, but eating too many may increase your calorie intake. Some protein bars are healthy, but others contain an insane amount of sugar.
If you cannot resist grabbing these protein-rich substitutes, choose those that are low in sugar and only a few ingredients.
3. Low-Fat Flavored Yogurt
Yogurt is considered a gut-friendly food and is known to boost the production of good bacteria in your gut. However, if you are on a weight-loss program, you automatically look for “low-fat” products. Low-fat flavored yogurt may be assumed to be healthy, but they are not. You can find 21 g of sugar in just 100 g of this type of yogurt.2 In addition to flavored yogurt, frozen yogurt may also not be a healthy alternative to ice cream as some are packed with sugar and other additives.
Instead, go for whole-fat yogurt, which can help you manage obesity, especially around the waist, much more efficiently than low-fat yogurt.3
4. Fruit Juices
A 125-ml apple juice carton contains 14 g of sugar, which is a lot more than what you need.4
You may stock up on fruit juice packets and just throw them into your bag while stepping out as they are an easy substitute for whole fruits. They come in different flavors, so you think you have had different fruits. However, what most fail to realize is that store-bought fruit juices contain similar amounts of sugar as other drinks like soda. Even high-quality, “100% natural” fruit juices fall into the category of “not-so-healthy” health drinks.
Whole fruits are always the best choice. You can also juice your favorite fruits at home instead of drinking packaged fruit juices.
5. Vegetarian Burgers
If you are a vegetarian or want to cut down on meat, you depend on veggie burgers for an easy meal. You might think you cannot go wrong with them because they are made of vegetables, but they may be as unhealthy as other fast-food choices.
Veggie burgers are primarily made of soy protein. To make soy protein products, food manufacturers immerse soybeans in a toxic chemical called hexane. A lot of nonorganic, soy protein products contain hexane-extracted soy protein, which may not be healthy if consumed regularly.5
Be mindful of the ingredients that make up your veggie burger. It is always better to choose vegetable burgers that contain whole, real ingredients. Also, burgers made from whole soy are better than those made from soy protein.
6. Gourmet Popcorn
Popcorn is a snack enjoyed by both children and adults. They are available in different flavors ranging from the simple, salted varieties to the cheesy flavored ones.
Although the original popcorn may be a low-calorie snack, the flavored kinds have added sugar, salt, and fat to enhance the taste. For instance, 100 g of cheese-flavored popcorn contains 33 g of fat.6 And if you are watching a midnight movie with your friends or family, 100 g is definitely not enough!
Make your own healthy popcorn by air-popping corn and adding some salt to taste.
7. Rice Cakes
Multigrain rice cakes are made by processing the grains, stripping them of all the nutrients.
Rice cakes are a favorite diet food because they are low in calories and fat. However, they are not the best bet when it comes to nutrients because they are pretty much low in those as well. Rice cakes are usually made from brown rice, but there are other multigrain varieties disguised as healthy foods.
Use rice cakes as a base for other nutritious foods. Spread fresh hummus over your rice cakes and bite into a crunchy, fiber-rich snack. Or, add fresh fruits or a topping of your choice to make rice cakes a healthier snack option.
8. Energy Drinks
Energy drinks are popular beverages among young adults and the markets are booming with different kinds because of their popularity in the fitness industry. However, these drinks are not a healthy way to provide your body with energy for improving physical and mental performance.
Energy drinks are largely made up of caffeine, along with small quantities of taurine, B vitamins, and guarana. These drinks also contain loads of sugar. Due to their high caffeine content, regular consumption can cause palpitations, anxiety, sleep problems, digestive problems, elevated blood pressure, and dehydration.7
If you find a packet that says low-fat or fat-free or even healthy, read the label and decide for yourself. It is always a good practice to know the ingredients that make up the products and the ingredients that are good for you before you purchase them.
|↑1||Full Report (All Nutrients): 45067061, GRANOLA BARS, UPC: 688267058219. United States Department of Agriculture.|
|↑2||Full Report (All Nutrients): 01298, Yogurt, frozen, flavors other than chocolate, lowfat. United States Department of Agriculture.|
|↑3||Santiago, S., C. Sayón-Orea, N. Babio, M. Ruiz-Canela, A. Martí, D. Corella, R. Estruch et al. “Yogurt consumption and abdominal obesity reversion in the PREDIMED study.” Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases 26, no. 6 (2016): 468-475.|
|↑4||Full Report (All Nutrients): 45136525, APPLE JUICE, UPC: 070859323049. United States Department of Agriculture.|
|↑5||Behind the Bean. The Cornucopia Institute.|
|↑6||Basic Report: 19040, Snacks, popcorn, cheese-flavor. United States Department of Agriculture.|
|↑7||Energy Drinks. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).|