20 Seemingly Healthy Foods That are Bad for You

20 Seemingly Healthy Foods That are Bad for You
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20 Seemingly Healthy Foods That are Bad for You

Is what you're eating really good for you? With so many "healthy" food choices available, it can be hard to distinguish the real deal from their imposters. Don't be fooled by misleading health food.

Microwave Popcorn

With so many light varieties of microwave popcorn on the market, it's easy to think that this snack is healthy, but with high levels of sodium and the chemical diacetyl, some health professionals caution about making this a regular snack. A better choice? Putting a few plain kernels in a brown paper bag and popping your own. You control the flavoring!

Light Salad Dressings

Have you ever looked at the ingredient list on light salad dressings? They're about a mile long! Filled with preservatives and other additives you can't pronounce—not to mention sodium and sugar—you’re much better off drizzling your veggies with a little extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Don't be fooled by the s-word. These 12 "salads" have more fat, calories, and sodium than a Big Mac!

Trail Mix

Nuts and dried fruit trail mix is obviously a healthy choice, right? Wrong! While plain, natural mixes of unsalted nuts and unsweetened dried fruits can make for a good portion-controlled, high-energy snack, many mixes throw in chocolate chips, loads of salt, and added sugars. Since a small handful easily contains 300-plus calories, read your nutrition labels closely!


With rolled oats, nuts, and dried fruits, granola seems so healthy. What is misleading though is how much sugar and extra calories are lurking in granola. A bowl of this stuff can easily contain 500 or more calories—and that's without the milk! Indulge smartly by choosing high-fiber varieties with low sugar. And stick to the recommended portion size on the label.

7 Must-Try Mason Jar Meals

Artichoke Spinach Dip

With artichokes and spinach in it, this seems like a veggie-rific dip, but be warned. Just a few tablespoons can pack hundreds of calories and unhealthy fat grams. Instead of ordering this out at a restaurant, try this better-for-you recipe at home. Dip raw veggies instead of chips or crackers for an even healthier swap!

Flavored Fat-Free Yogurt

Don't fall into the fat-free trap. Just because something is fat-free doesn't make it healthy. In fact, many flavored yogurts have upwards of 15 grams of sugar in that tiny 6-ounce serving! Our advice? Buy plain, fat-free Greek yogurt and flavor it up with some fruit or even a small drizzle of honey. That way, you control what's in it!

10 more ways to include Greek yogurt in your diet

Dried Fruit

While dried fruit does contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals, many companies add sulfur and sugar to make it better for store shelves. While you can buy unsulfured and unsweetened varieties in health food stores, why not just eat fresh fruit instead? It's much more filling and has fewer calories per serving!

Flavored Soymilk

Soy has many health benefits, including being high in protein and potassium and low in cholesterol. However, those tasty chocolate and vanilla varieties? They add so much sugar and unnecessary calories! Save the flavored soymilks for the occasional dessert and choose unsweetened or plain varieties for your everyday drinking instead.

Energy Drinks

With so many energy drinks on the market, many of which promise to pump you up and give you a killer workout with added caffeine, vitamins, and minerals, it may be tempting to think that these drinks are healthy, but they aren't. Similar to supplements, energy drinks aren’t regulated by the FDA, so it's best to stick to plain ol' water to rehydrate and whole nutrition to energize!


Smoothies have long been the darling of the health-food world. Although some smoothies made with simple, whole-food ingredients can be healthy, don't get fooled into thinking anything with the name "smoothie" is good for you. Some smoothies are made with lots of added sugars, high-calorie ingredients like chocolate syrup, or even use full-fat ice cream as a base. Your best smoothie bet? Make one at home so that you know exactly what's in it!

Turkey Sandwich

You've probably heard that when in doubt of what to order out, a turkey sandwich is always a safe bet, right? Well, it depends on where you're eating. Highly-processed deli meats can be high in nitrates and sodium, which is hard on the heart. Not to mention that turkey sandwiches are oftentimes loaded with full-fat mayo and include huge portions of bread (white or wheat, too much is too much). As always, check those nutritionals before you eat to know what kind of turkey sandwich you're really getting!


Made with yogurt, granola, and fresh fruit, a parfait seems pretty harmless, but a little certainly goes a long way. In fact, unless made at home with the right ingredients, this "healthy" snack can easily contain heavy dessert-like numbers for calories, fat, and sugar. When in doubt, just eat some fresh fruit instead.

Blue Corn Chips

Blue corn chips seem healthier than regular white or yellow corn tortilla chips, but they really aren't that different, thanks to similar calorie, fat, and sodium counts. Don't let that rich blue color fool you!

Fish Sandwich

There's no doubt that fish is healthy. But when you fry it, coat a bun with butter, and layer on tartar sauce or mayo, there's little "health" left in it. To get the full benefits of fish, skip the sandwich altogether and enjoy a plain grilled fillet with some steamed veggies and rice pilaf instead!

Chicken Wrap

There was a time about 10 years ago when anything in a wrap became synonymous with “health food.” Problem is, even when you fill wheat tortillas up with tons of veggies and lean protein, the ginormous tortilla itself can contain 400 to 800 calories—not to mention the high-calorie sauces usually in them. Your best bet is to split a wrap with a friend or order it sans tortilla!

Low-Fat Muffins

The low-fat muffins at coffee shops always look so good. And although they are a reduced-fat version of the full-fat muffins they sit next to, they are by no means actually healthy. In fact, when most manufacturers take fat out, they have to replace it with something to make up for the lack of taste. And that something is usually sugar, making most low-fat muffins not even that less caloric than their full-fat counterparts and probably less filling.

Gluten-Free Products

Gluten-free products are all the rage these days. Although some gluten-free products are healthy, by no means does the label "gluten-free" equate to health. If it's packaged or processed -- gluten or no gluten -- it's not as healthy as other whole foods you could be eating. The best gluten-free foods aren't products at all; They're fresh fruits and vegetables!

If you must go gluten-free, try these 10 breakfast ideas.

Frozen Diet Dinners

A pre-portioned frozen meal may be convenient and seem like a great way to keep your calories in check, but when it comes to nutrition, most diet dinners just don't stack up. Filled with preservatives, too much sodium, and few veggies, these are better left in the freezer case.

Ditch the frozen dinner! Here are 40 quick and easy recipes all under 400 calories.

Canned Soups

Canned soups can make for a filling lunch or dinner, but even the reduced-sodium and low-fat version aren't as healthy as they seem. Most cans of soup have 400 or more milligrams of sodium per cup—and really, who just eats half the can? High sodium can raise blood pressure, lead to bloating, and just generally make you feel sluggish. No fun!

Veggie Pizza

We all know pizza isn't the healthiest food choice, but veggie pizza? It has vegetables, so it must be healthy, right? Not so fast. Some fast-food joints load their veggie pizza with extra cheese to make up for the lack of meat or use oil-soaked dried tomatoes and olives for flavor. Your best bet? Go for thin crust veggie pizza with half the cheese, watch portion sizes closely, or consider making your own at home!

Hungry to find out what other seemingly healthy foods may be bad for you? Uncover 30 more misleading "healthy" eats at Shape.com.


By Jennipher Walters

Is what you're eating really good for you? With so many "healthy" food choices available, it can be hard to distinguish the real deal from their imposters. Don't be fooled by misleading health food.

Read on to uncover 20 seemingly healthy foods that are bad for you in the slideshow above.

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