"Healthy" Foods That Make You Fat

Here are 15 supposedly good-for-you foods to cut back on. Plus, what to eat instead.
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Sneaky Saboteur: Yogurt With Fruit On The Bottom

Yogurt and fruit are two very healthy foods, but the corn syrup that’s used to sweeten these products is not, says Sarah Krieger, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Guilt-free grub: Mix fresh fruit into plain non-fat yogurt or a light brand, which has approximately 90 percent less sugar than regular yogurt.
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Sneaky Saboteur: Caesar Salad

"When nutrition experts suggest starting your meal with a salad, a Caesar salad is not exactly what we have in mind," says Heather Mangieri, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Caesar salads can easily provide between 300 and 400 calories and 25 to 30 g fat with the unhealthiest ones tallying over half a day’s worth of calories. What’s to blame? Each two-tablespoon serving of traditional creamy dressings adds about 120 calories, 12 grams of fat, 2.5 grams saturated fat, and 380 milligrams of sodium to your salad-and most people pour on double this amount. In addition, one-half cup of croutons contains about 100 calories and one-fourth cup of shredded cheese adds another 100. Guilt-free grub: Downsize to a two-tablespoon serving of Caesar dressing or dig into a garden salad with light dressing instead.
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Sneaky Saboteur: Ketchup

There’s a lot more to this bottled condiment than tomatoes: It’s made up of almost 20% sugar, which contributes a significant number of calories. If you squirt four tablespoons onto your burger and fries, you’re adding 16 grams of sugar and 60 extra calories to your meal. Guilt-free grub: Taste your food before adding ketchup-it may not need any, says Krieger. If it does, use sugar-free ketchup and measure your serving closely.
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Sneaky Saboteur: Muffins

Flavors such as apple bran and blueberry evoke images of wholesome goodness, but that doesn’t mean you should start your morning with a muffin. "These seemingly healthy items can have hundreds of unwanted calories and fat," says Mangieri-even the ones labeled "reduced fat." That claim just means the muffin contains 25 percent less fat than the original, not necessarily a healthy amount. A Dunkin Donuts reduced fat blueberry muffin, for instance, still has 430 calories and 9 grams of fat. Guilt-free grub: Reach for a whole-wheat English muffin or a few slices of whole-wheat toast with fresh fruit jam, a banana, and a handful of nuts, says Krieger.
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Sneaky Saboteur: Whole-Milk Products

Dairy products contain protein, calcium, B-12, and riboflavin-all essential nutrients for a healthy body-but they also have ample amounts of fat and cholesterol. Guilt-free grub: "Lower-fat options are available for most dairy products, such as milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, and cream cheese," says Krieger. If you drink an 8-ounce glass of whole milk daily, switching to fat free could save you 66 calories-enough to lose seven pounds in a year.
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Sneaky Saboteur: California Roll

Sushi can be a healthy alternative for any diet or weight loss plan, but only if you choose the right type. "A California roll is wrapped in seaweed that contains essential nutrients, such as iodine, selenium, calcium, and omega-3 fats, but the white rice is packed with carbohydrates and contains no fiber," explains Krieger. Guilt-free grub: Order sushi made with tuna or salmon. These varieties have fewer bad carbohydrates and provide necessary protein, which is vital to building bones, muscles, and tissue. Try to skip the rice (order sashimi) or substitute brown rice for white rice.
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Sneaky Saboteur: Granola Bars

When it comes to healthy snacks, a mix of fruit and oats may seem like a no-brainer. But not all granola bars are created equal. "There are many varieties that are full of sugar, corn syrup, and saturated fat, and which fail to provide a solid source of nutrition," says Krieger. Though granola is high in fiber, the oats are held together with ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, honey, and barley malt. These ingredients not only add excess calories, but they can also spike your blood sugar. Guilt-free grub: Choose a low-sugar bar with at least 5 grams of protein. Or get your oats an alternate way: Heat up a bowl of plain oatmeal and spice it up with a few pinches of cinnamon.
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Sneaky Saboteur: Dried Fruit

Although packed with vitamins and minerals, dried fruit also has high concentrations of calories and sugar, says Mangieri. Just 1/4 cup of dried plums or apricots-only four pieces!-contains 160 calories and 32 grams of sugar-much of which comes from added sweeteners. Plus, many of the fruit’s nutrients may have been damaged by the heat, light, and oxygen used in the drying process. Guilt-free grub: Look for freeze-dried fruit from companies like Just Tomatoes and Funky Monkey. It’s flash frozen at peak ripeness to better retain taste and nutrients and doesn’t contain any added sweeteners or preservatives. Or, better yet, choose fresh fruit. A whole apple or mango is more nutritious and provides instant portion control.
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Sneaky Saboteur: Burrito

"While salsa, beans, and rice may make a burrito appear harmless, the cheese, sour cream, and tortilla add hundreds of unwanted calories," says Krieger. The standard chicken burrito is comparable in calories, saturated fat, and sodium to three 6-inch Subway BLT Classic Subs. Guilt-free grub: Ordering the burrito sans cheese and sour cream cuts the saturated fat to 5 grams, but you still end up with more than a day’s worth of blood pressure-boosting sodium. Instead, opt for a grilled chicken dish with brown rice, lettuce, and salsa on the side.
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Sneaky Saboteur: Bagel With Cream Cheese

This AM favorite may seem healthier than a big, traditional breakfast of bacon, eggs, and sausage links until you consider that a bakery bagel can contain upwards of 500 calories. Slather on two tablespoons of cream cheese and you’ve reached the 600-calorie range. Guilt-free grub: Try a whole wheat English muffin with a tablespoon of jelly. You’ll slash your calorie count by two-thirds and get a punch of blood sugar-steadying fiber and heart-healthy magnesium. "If you must have a bagel, opt for a whole-grain bagel and swap the cream cheese for natural peanut butter, which contains more healthy fats, protein, and less sugar," says Krieger.
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Sneaky Saboteur: Lemon Chicken

Common at restaurants, this light- and fresh-sounding dish is actually a calorie bomb. "It isn’t in a heavy cream sauce, but the dish contains a lot of oil and is deep fried," says Krieger. This can triple and sometimes quadruple the fat content. A typical recipe yields approximately 1,400 calories and 13 grams of saturated fat: That’s the equivalent of eating three fried McChicken sandwiches plus a 32-oz. Coke at McDonald’s. Guilt-free grub: If you prefer your protein with a little extra flavor, steer yourself toward stir-fried dishes, which are loaded with vegetables. Just be sure to ask for the sauce on the side and swap white or fried rice for brown rice whenever possible-the darker grain is a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. And use the sauce sparingly: It may contain high amounts of sugar and calories.
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Sneaky Saboteur: Canned Soup

Relaxing with a hot bowl of chicken vegetable soup may seem nutritionally harmless, but before you open that can, ponder this: Some of the most popular brands contain over 2,000 milligrams of sodium per can, which is almost an entire day’s worth. What’s the harm in consuming a little extra? Besides the bloat caused by fluid retention, high amounts of sodium directly impact blood pressure and have also been linked to osteoporosis, asthma, kidney disease, and stomach cancer. In addition, most canned soups have high levels of trans fats and artificial preservatives like MSG. Guilt-free grub: Try reduced-sodium soups, which are still flavorful, and add frozen vegetables so you can split the can between two people, says Krieger.
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Sneaky Saboteur: Movie Theater Popcorn

The next time you’re bellying up to the snack bar, don’t assume eating a bucket of this whole-grain finger food would be better than a box of sugary sweets. A medium-sized popcorn and medium soda at the nation’s largest movie chain pack the nutritional equivalent of three Quarter Pounders topped with 12 pats of butter, according to a report released by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The standard medium popcorn contains roughly 1,000 calories, without the buttery topping, which adds another 200 calories and 3 grams of saturated fat per 1 1/2 tablespoons. Guilt-free grub: Can you enjoy a movie without popcorn? "Absolutely," says Krieger. "Eat a meal or healthy snack before the flick and skip the concessions altogether." Feel the need to indulge? Bring a small bag of trail mix or munch on unbuttered, air-popped popcorn at home.
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Sneaky Saboteur: Fruit Juice

If you routinely reach for juice instead of soda, don’t pat yourself on the back just yet. As with pop, "most commercial fruit juices are loaded with sugar," explains Krieger, with some containing more per serving than a candy bar. Guilt-free grub: Limit yourself to one glass of 100 percent fruit juice, which contains no added sugar, per day. Or grab a piece of fresh fruit. For 60 calories, you get a whole apple instead of one-half cup of juice, plus about four grams of stomach-filling fiber.
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Sneaky Saboteur: Fruit Cocktail

It may be tempting to skip fresh fruit in favor of a conveniently packed container, but "if you don’t read the label closely, you may choose a brand that’s packed in heavy syrup," warns Krieger. Not only is the added sugar unhealthy, fruit can lose a lot of nutrients when it’s processed and canned. Guilt-free grub: Dice up fresh fruit at home and portion it into individual containers or look for fruit cocktail canned in 100 percent juice, not syrup. NEXT: Eat Yourself Calmer
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First Published Tue, 2010-07-27 09:45

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