7 So-Called Health Foods That Can Be Unhealthy

by Erica Florentine

It’s often difficult to come to terms with healthy foods that are sabotaging your nutrition, if only because you’ve been consuming them so long with the false belief that they’re totally good for you. I hate being proved wrong, so when I’m proudly having a “healthy” lunch and a coworker tells me something I’m eating is actually bad for me, it’s so infuriating. However, sometimes we need someone to step in and let us know that certain things aren’t as good as us as we may think — especially when it comes to our bodies and our overall health. Realizing we can’t all afford the luxury of having a full-time nutritionist guiding us through each of our meals and snacks, I took the liberty of doing some research on some of my favorite “healthy” foods so see how they pan out. Turns out seven of my favorites aren’t so good for me, after all.

Not to sound like my grandpa here, but it seems like in this day and age almost everything can be considered bad for you. I’m not writing this article to squash your spirit. Rather, I just want you to be aware that not all of the foods and beverages you believe to be healthy are actually making your body smile on the inside. Simply speaking, some "healthy" foods are packed with not so healthy stuff. Here are seven so-called healthy foods you’re eating that are sabotaging your diet.

1. Nuts

Yes, nuts are an amazing source of omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, vitamin E and fiber, according to Health Magazine — all of which are great for our bodies. However, sometimes it's easy to focus on this and forget that serving size is important when eating nuts. According to, a single ounce of cocktail peanuts contains 170 calories. The thing to remember here is that calories are not the enemy at all. Your body needs them and, nutritionally speaking, nuts are amazing for your body. But if you're eating dozens and dozens of servings of them along with your regular meals, then you might be missing the point. Ideal nutrition for your body is all about balance, so pay attention to the serving size next time you reach for those almonds.

I’m also going to go ahead and loop trail mix in here as well. The combination of nuts, dried fruit (which contains sugar, like it’s fresh fruit counterparts, according to The Globe And Mail), and perhaps chocolate pieces as well can turn what seems like a healthy snack to more of a dessert. If you're trying to avoid added sugar, this is a no-go.

Wonderful Almonds, $9, Amazon

2. Smoothies

If they sell them at the gym they must be healthy, right? Not necessarily. Look closely and you’ll notice many smoothies contain ingredients like peanut butter, flavored syrup, chocolate and more, according to WebMD. It’s likely your favorite smoothie is being served in a gigantic cup, too, making the crazy sugar levels even higher.

Not ready to give up your daily smoothie? Try making it at home instead where you’ll have complete control over what goes into it. Opt for fresh fruit, plain yogurt, non-fat milk, and ice to keep it simple, and be cautious of the serving size.

Oster Blender With Travel Bottle, $19.99, Amazon

3. Dark Chocolate

I’m so confused about dark chocolate. I always hated the taste of it growing up, but then once I started to care more about the things I was putting into my body, I forced myself to choose it over milk chocolate. After all, dark chocolate is healthy! However, just because it’s known to be good for us, doesn’t mean it should be indulged on all the time. According to Health Magazine, an ounce of dark chocolate packs 9 grams of fat, and 5 of it saturated. Not such a good stat. As with anything else, though, moderation is key, because dark chocolate does have some cool benefits.

Ghiradelli Intense Premium Dark Chocolate Assortment Pack, $19.98, Amazon

4. Ground Turkey

I don’t eat red meat because I don’t like the way it tastes. That said, I haven’t eaten a hamburger in longer than I can remember. At a BBQ one summer afternoon a few years ago my health-freak relative asked me why I’d never considered trying a turkey burger. “They’re so healthy! They’re actually far healthier than a regular hamburger,” they said. It wasn’t the first (or the last) time I've heard that notion. Here’s the truth, though — ground turkey isn’t always healthier than beef, according to personal trainer Melanie Anne, who has a food science degree, in a LIVESTRONG article.

Look at it this way: A quarter pound of regular ground turkey has 3 grams of saturated fat, according to Cooking Light. In comparison, the same amount of sirloin contains 2.5 grams of saturated fat. Why is this? Often the ground turkey contains a mixture of white meat and dark meat, the latter of which isn’t as lean. However, before you ground turkey fans become too alarmed, there’s a go-around. Try shopping for the fat-free ground turkey, according to LIVESTRONG.

5. Sushi

If you’re a fish lover who is closely watching your calorie intake, I’m sure sushi has become a staple in your diet. While the raw fish aspect is a major "yes” for healthy eaters, according to Shape, the additions to each roll? Not so good. When you’re ordering those special rolls, keep in mind that these often contain nutritionally empty components like cream cheese, spicy mayo, and white rice, according to Shape. Also, if you’re ordering tempura, it's important to know that that's simply fish or vegetables that are battered and deep-fried, according to Experts at Shape say soy sauce might seem like a harmless addition to your roll, however it’s packed with sodium, and can cause uncomfortable bloating. Therefore, Shape suggested asking for a low-sodium soy sauce when ordering.

In a Prevention article, Maxine Smith, RD, a dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic, noted the average roll has little protein. Smith said the white rice is also a high-glycemic food, which can make you feel hungrier than you actually are. Want to stay nutrition-conscious and have your sushi too? Try getting your roll with brown rice, skipping the special additions and/or ordering sashimi instead.

6. Granola

Oh, granola. It tastes so, so, delicious added to the top of my morning yogurt. However, it tastes good for a reason — it’s packed with added sugar, according to Real Simple. RD Keri Gans spoke to Real Simple about granola, and noted many times we believe starting our day with a breakfast cereal, like granola, is a healthy way to start our day, but we may be wrong. Gans said, “Most have too much sugar and very little fiber. A healthy breakfast cereal should be the exact opposite.” To combat the high sugar and low nutrition levels of granola, swap it out for another fiber-rich crunchy option, or use it sparingly in your yogurt.

7. Restaurant Salads

Of course, if you’re making a salad at home and adding only fresh vegetables and a healthy dressing, you’re likely in the clear. Those prepared outside the home, though, may not be quite as good as you think. You might have heard this before, but if you’re dining out, many times the salads on the menu have crazy-high levels of sodium and fat, according to The Daily Meal. The online publication took a look at 10 of the most unhealthy restaurants salads, and it’s not so pretty.

Again, eating any of the above things in moderation isn’t going to ruin the good you’ve done for you body by exercising and eating right. But at the end of the day, knowing exactly you're putting in your body is way better than being misinformed.

Images: Pixabay (8)