Foods aren't always what they seem. Check out this slideshow to learn 20 seemingly healthy foods that are actually unhealthy.
Laura Cipullo, R.D., CDE, says that the skin is basically just fat, and the darker meat is higher in saturated fat. Opt for the white meat, and please do your arteries a favor and take the skin off.
This can be a diet disaster, says Nicole Ring: The bread can be oversized, toasted, and buttered; it often doesn’t mention mayonnaise or "secret sauce," and usually larger portions of cheese are used which add extra fat and calories. Instead, make this at home and turn it into an open-faced sandwich, reducing extra unnecessary calories.
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Cipullo says: An egg white alone is oddly absorbed like a sugar and therefore raises your blood sugar. Use real, fresh eggs in a nonstick frying pan. Use one whole egg to get a little fat and a high dose of vitamin A. Add an additional egg white for volume.
Portobello Mushroom Burger
Vegetarian options seem healthy, so you opt for the portobello mushroom burger. It ends up being a deep-fried, breaded portobello mushroom filled with cheese. Cipullo says, in this case, a burger made with lean beef would be better. Don't be fooled by vegetarian meals when eating out.
Credit: Vegetarian Times
Cipullo advises: If you want to eat a tuna sandwich as a daily meal, ditch the soggy white bread, the thick mayonnaise, and the mercury-laden canned albacore tuna. Instead, make it fresh in your kitchen with chunk light tuna and add fiber and antioxidants with celery and colorful peppers.
Credit: Yasmin Fahr
Cipullo says that everyone orders the turkey burger, thinking this is the healthier burger. In fact, the beef burger may be leaner. Know the percentage of lean meat and choose the burger with greater than 90 percent lean meat.
Credit: Alexis Anderson
Sweet Potato Fries
Sweet potato fries are high in vitamin A, but they are often no better than regular fries, says Cipullo. There is nothing unhealthy about a sweet potato; rather, it’s the fact that it is fried in some unknown vegetable oil, like regular fries. Instead, make and bake your fries. Baking fries is the best option.
Credit: Taste of Home
Grilled Chicken Sandwich
Cipullo points out that what seems like a heart-healthy choice at the sandwich counter may in fact be covered in cheese and bacon while being served with french fries. Instead, make it at home, cut out the bacon, and serve with grilled vegetables.
America's favorite healthy lunch sandwich, right? It may not be so healthy if it has 6 to 8 ounces of turkey plus cheese, mayonnaise, and fixings, says Cipullo. Instead, make it at home, use half the amount of meat, and add a slice of the good green fat, avocado.
Cipullo says that many delis add extra cornstarch to make soups thicker and salt cubes to make them tasty. Instead, make a wholesome soup at home using a vegetable broth base, flavored with herbs and spices.
Granola — it's so crunchy and healthy for active adults. Cipullo says: If you prefer the couch or have trouble with portioning, opt for a high-fiber cereal instead. Granola is healthy when it's naked, but food manufacturers add unnecessary oils, sugars, and sometimes even candy.
Credit: Amie Valpone
It's hard to avoid all the rage about smoothies! Cipullo says: Be sure to make your smoothies rather than buy them. Instead, use whole fruits, Greek yogurt, and water to keep this a refreshing and healthy snack.
Credit: Jane Bruce
You are at the coffee shop and want to find something healthy so you choose a bran muffin. You order it warmed with butter. Just because it's made with bran doesn't mean it's healthy, says Cipullo. This muffin is usually made from a processed mix and moistened up with butter and sugar. Instead, opt for homemade muffins.
Linguine and Clams
Nicole Ring, R.D., says linguine and clams in a white wine broth may seem light, but the portion sizes are often enough to share. White pasta adds unnecessary calories and many sauces use butter for the finish. Instead, make this at home using whole-wheat pasta and cut out the butter.
Tricia Williams, chef-nutritionist and founder of Food Matters NYC, says that whole-wheat wraps contain gluten and are high glycemic. Toss them out and switch to lettuce wraps; romaine and Boston lettuce are good choices.
Credit: Rachel Cannon Humiston
"The Fish Dish"
Williams says you're better off making this one at home, too. She says that lots of kitchens brush their fish with melted butter. Instead, making it at home and pan-searing in an eco-friendly, nonstick pan with organic spray safflower oil is the way to go.
Williams says that veggie burgers are often loaded with overprocessed proteins and soy products, and don't always contain a whole lot of actual vegetables. Homemade veggie burgers are a snap to make out of actual vegetables, beans, and quinoa.
Credit: Lindsay S. Nixon
Williams says that tomato soups are often loaded with sodium. In restaurants, they are often finished with cream or thickened with bread. It's best to make it on your own so you can control the ingredients.
Credit: Yasmin Fahr
Williams says turkey bacon has as many calories as traditional bacon, and is loaded with sodium and artificial ingredients. Your best bet if you're going to indulge is to look for a heritage variety of bacon from a small production farm that's free of nitrates and sugars.
Asian Chopped Salad
Williams says that salads are generally a bad pitfall for people who think they are making a healthy choice. Asian chopped salads, Cobb salads, and Caesar salads are loaded and coated with non-vegetable items that really stack up the calories. It's best to build your own salad.
Credit: Alison J. Bermack
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There's an awful lot of pressure to pick the right option during lunch on a typical busy workday. Basically, everyone wants something that's quick, healthy, cheap, and still has some attempt at flavor. But, every once in awhile, we succumb to just grabbing whatever sounds good without giving it a whole lot of thought — such is the problem with grabbing lunch on the go.
So perhaps it's time to remove yourself from that situation; after all, it's much easier to make health-conscious choices when you're not in a time crunch. It may take a little planning the night before, but it's well worth it. We came up with a list of foods that may sound like healthy options when you're dining out, but are better made at home. The fixes are simple, and perhaps some may not necessarily be surprising, but every once in awhile, it's helpful just to have a reminder.
For example, what's wrong with the situation pictured above? There are several things wrong, actually, and the first thing is the most obvious. It's huge. Yes, it's obviously a bit of an exaggeration, and a portion like that is meant either for a gargantuan or an army of ravenous teenagers. But, it does illustrate one of the problems common to many popular and "healthy" dining choices: The portions are sometimes big enough to feed more than one person. Yes, it is a turkey sandwich, and yes, it does have plenty of vegetables, but it also has way too much cheese, and that bun should be whole-wheat. And slathered onto the back of that bun is probably a whole bunch of mayonnaise.
So we teamed up with a few nutrition experts to help untangle the mess. Laura Cipullo, R.D., CDE, runs her own nutrition consultation practice in New York City and takes a holistic approach to nutrition to help people get out of the "diet mentality." She offers advice to both adults and children.
Nicole Ring, R.D., is the director of restaurant and community partnerships at Healthy Dining, a service backed by a team of dietitians that helps people find healthy menu options when dining out. Ring was kind enough to help point us in the right direction when trying to figure out what popular dishes would be better made at home, along with what to add, and more importantly, what to leave out when doing so.
Last but not least, Tricia Williams, chef-nutritionist and founder of Food Matters NYC, marries the best of both worlds, with a sound restaurant background and a solid understanding of the principles of good nutrition. Friedland holds a certification in holistic nutrition from Columbia Teacher's College and a Food Therapy Certification from the National Gourmet Institute, and is currently pursuing her masters in nutrition education at New York University.