9 Foods You Think are Healthy but Aren't

Pause                     1 of 10

9 Foods You Think are Healthy but Aren't

Written by: Sarah Haan, Registered Dietitian

There are many foods in today's supermarkets that aren't as good for you as you might think. Before you bite, get the facts on some of these masters of disguise, but remember: All sorts of foods and drinks can fit into a healthy diet when you enjoy them responsibly and within moderation. Just make sure you're reading labels and not being tricked into thinking the foods you're eating are better for you than they really are.

Vitamin-Enriched Water

Vitamin-enriched waters put two good things together to make healthiest drink ever, right? Sounds good in theory, but vitamin waters contain far more than their name implies. Yes, they can give you your daily dose of nutrients, just like a multivitamin, but it comes with a side of sugar and calories you may not have known you ordered. A single bottle of vitamin-enriched water usually contains 2.5 servings or more when you read the nutrition label. That means you're consuming more than twice the calories and sugar listed on the label when you drink the whole thing. Water it down: Water should be your drink of choice. If you don't like the flavor of plain water, spruce it up without calories by adding lime, lemon or orange wedges to your glass. Save the vitamin and electrolyte-enhanced waters for long, intense workouts that last 90 minutes or more.


Granola can be deceiving. It appears to be filled with the whole-grain goodness of oats. What's so bad about that? It's what you don't see: all the added fat and sugar that turned those healthful oats into granola. This applies to granola bars, too. They may have a reputation as the optimal snack for healthy eaters, but many are made with added chocolate, sugars, and "chicory root extract," which is mostly inulin, a sugar made from plants that is also a source of soluable fiber. Inulin, which is largely undigestible, adds both sugar and supplemental fiber to make granola look healthier than it is. Get a grip on granola: Not all granolas deserve a bad rap. Read those labels (sugars should not be in the first two ingredients) or make your own so you know what you're eating.

Spinach Wraps & Pasta

Spinach wraps and pastas definitely add a decorative flair to your meal, but that's about it. The actual amount of spinach in these green tortillas and noodles is trivial compared with what you would get if you added your own spinach leaves to your wrap or pasta dish. This super green is added more for color than for nutrition, and most often, the flour used to make the pasta or wrap isn't whole grain, either. Spruce up your spinach: Add fresh spinach leaves to your pasta dish or wrap if you want to benefit from the B vitamins, fiber, iron and calcium found in spinach. Choose whole-grain (not spinach) pastas and wraps for your meals instead.

Broccoli & Cheddar Soup

It may boast the super food "broccoli" in its name, but this creamy concoction is usually less than soup-er for you. Besides a load of full-fat cheddar cheese, what you won't see is all the melted butter and cream this soup contains. All three of these ingredients are high in unhealthy saturated fats. And just because broccoli is in the name doesn't mean you're getting a serving of vegetables when you slurp down this soup. Slim down your soup: Order a cup instead of a bowl, or make it at home using healthier substitutions like evaporated skim milk and less cheese. Don't forget to add a real serving or two of vegetables to your meal; this soup alone won't help you meet your daily quota.

Veggie Chips

Veggie chips seem like they would be a much smarter choice than regular potato chips, but it turns out most brands are about equal in calories, fat and nutrients to regular old chips. Consumer Reports states that the main ingredient for almost all veggie chips are potatoes, merely supplemented with vegetable powder or puree. Veggie chips only contain about 10 fewer calories per serving than your average potato chips. Chuck the chips: Snack on fresh, crunchy veggies for fewer calories and more nutrients than veggie chips.


Muffins may look like the perfect breakfast or snack, but in most cases, they're little more than a small cake (i.e. dessert). Not only do they resemble small planets in size, but they are also loaded with calories, unhealthy fats, refined flour and added sugars. Bran muffins can trick you into thinking they are healthful because the word "bran" is in the name, but these monsters can contain 500 calories or more and very little else in the way of nutrition! Blueberry muffins (or other fruity varieties) contain a fraction of a serving of real fruit. Muzzle the muffin top: Share these goodies with a friend and watch your portion sizes. If fruit is what you want, avoid it when it comes in muffin form. You can also make muffins at home and use healthier ingredients to make them more nutritious.


Pretzels, although a better choice than greasy potato chips, provide little more than calories. Yes, you can buy them fat free, but they're also free of any significant amount of vitamins, minerals, fiber or protein. Even pretzels labeled "honey wheat" struggle to pack 1 gram of fiber into 8 twists. If you're crunching on salted pretzels, you could be adding an extra 815 mg of sodium to your diet with each serving. Power up your pretzels: Choose whole-wheat pretzels for more fiber and filling power or pair your twists with some healthy protein (like cheese or peanut butter) to avoid spikes in blood sugar that could leave you feeling hungry and lethargic.

Yogurt-Covered Raisins

Wholesome yogurt + fruity raisins = yogurt-covered raisins. These must be healthy, right? Wrong. While both raisins and yogurt are nutritious foods, this packaged snack is anything but. The "yogurt" on the outside is far from the yogurt you know from the dairy aisle. Mostly sugar, oil and some dry milk and yogurt powder, that "yogurt" coating is often a source of hydrogenated oil (trans fats), which you'd never find in real yogurt. A single serving (1/4 cup) also contains about 130 calories. Skirt this yogurt: Get more nutrition for your calories by choosing real yogurt, with or without added fruit. You'll save fat and calories and avoid the sugar rush of this snack.

Diet Soda

Calorie-free isn't synonymous with healthy. When you'[re downing more than the recommended max of 16 oz of pop per day, you may be doing harm to your body and hurting your healthy lifestyle goals. The carbonated beverage could be displacing much-needed water, which is necessary for hydration, and calcium-rich milk, which provides essential vitamins and minerals. Some sodas could even put you at risk for bone loss. Some research shows that phosphoric acid, found in dark colas, may leach calcium from your bones, increasing your risk of osteoporosis. Ditch the diet: Choose more water, tea and reduced-fat milk, aiming for 64 oz of fluid per day.

See more nutrition slideshows Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints

Member Comments on this Slideshow

(scroll to end to leave a comment)


7/29/2015 9:05:03 PM

LIGNSS's SparkPage
FInally! A source suggesting 64 ounces of "fluid" per day instead of water! I'm so tired of the universal mandate (completely unsupported) that we drink 64 ounces of water per day and even more if consuming coffee or tea!


7/1/2015 6:40:22 PM

I knew most of these things already but it is informative and helpful to others


2/9/2015 4:30:24 PM

JOLENE662's SparkPage
I always though muffins were someone's sneaky idea to make cake into an acceptable breakfast food.


12/8/2014 9:47:00 AM

Real veggie chips are easy to make. Cut your veggies very thin, a mandolin or spiral cutter, in a bowl mix a little olive oil, just enough to lightly coat the veggies and what ever seasons you like. Sp;read them out on a cookie sheet and bake at 250 until lightly browned, turning once.


12/7/2014 8:27:44 PM

I'm not really into any of these foods anymore, as well as milk and gluten. gosh that just leaves fresh fruit, vege and lean meat. :-)


12/7/2014 2:59:21 PM

NGILLARD's SparkPage
Veggi chips.what a joke.


12/7/2014 2:42:38 PM

I fell for the veggie chips thing for a long time. Sort of reminds me of thinking it is significantly healthier to eat vegetable tempura than french fries ;)


12/7/2014 12:19:15 PM

CD2AD1's SparkPage
Eww...processed food. Never a good choice.


12/7/2014 10:53:59 AM

I truly appreciate having these short articles readily available. Good information. Even if you know the information, it is good to have reminders.


12/7/2014 9:56:16 AM

Alone Kb- hilarious :-D


11/12/2014 9:18:08 AM

All the slide shows today are blank??


10/29/2014 1:28:50 PM

APONI_KB's SparkPage
I don't care what anyone says, Diet Coke with Lime quiets the voices in my head that tell me to shout obsentities at my coworkers.

I may be half joking


10/29/2014 12:16:35 AM

Anything made with flour, especially the so-called 'whole wheat' kind, should also be on this list!


10/28/2014 9:48:04 PM

SCOTTYDOG76's SparkPage
Thank goodness I've already given up most of those things! Now I see I'd better add veggie chips to that list.


10/28/2014 4:29:25 PM

ARMOMMI2's SparkPage
Unfortunately, it seems that we have to get sick to learn how to eat properly. It's only been the past few decades that have seen this discouraging amount of additives and "convenience" in our food supply, not to mention the genetically modified seeds that are used to grow it. A handful of big companies are spending billions of dollars to market this garbage to our children. What's more convenient than picking up an apple or a banana?? Oh, right, right!! We have to wash the pesticides off first. How inconvenient. I'm seeing more and more "fresh" markets in neighborhoods these days, but I shop there very carefully. I don't buy into the words "Natural" "Wholesome" or "Fresh." Instead, I like the sound of non-GMO and Organic. No sugar or white flour is a start.

Comment Pages (23 total)

x Lose 10 Pounds by June 4! Sign up with Email Sign up with Facebook
By clicking one of the above buttons, you're indicating that you have read and agree to SparkPeople's Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy and that you're at least 18 years of age.