By Anna Ng
Have you ever discovered foods that claim to be “healthy” but are actually not as nutritious as you thought? Discover the common “health foods” that may be fooling you!
- Bran Muffins: Disguised as a healthy breakfast, some bran muffins are actually not much more nutritious than sugary cereals or cupcakes! Check the nutrition label for a low-sugar, high fiber option or swap your muffin for a whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter for a more nutritious alternative.
- Protein and Granola Bars: Protein and granola bars are often perceived as “healthy” on-the-go snacks but often contain as much calories and added sugars as candy bars! Common sources of hidden added sugars include cane or brown sugar, honey, high fructose corn or brown rice syrup. Opt for a low-sugar, high-fiber bar or a handful of nuts and dried fruit!
- Flavored Yogurt: Yogurt is a great source of protein but can also be loaded with extra sugars (not including natural sugars from milk). Choose unsweetened plain yogurt and create your own flavor with fresh fruit and a dollop of honey or nut butter!
- Fruit Juice & Smoothies: Fruit juice and smoothies can be very high in sugar and are often missing the nutritional benefits of whole fruit, such as fiber. Fresh orange fruit has about 4x the fiber and 38% less sugar than 12oz of orange juice! Instead of fruit juice, have fruit in its whole, natural and delicious form.
- Reduced Fat or Fat-Free Foods: Fat is not the enemy. In fact, fat is an essential nutrient – meaning your body needs it! The fat in many reduced fat or fat-free foods such as reduced fat peanut butter or fat-free dressing are usually replaced with extra sugars. Consider full-fat peanut butter (unsweetened) or making your own dressing with olive oil and vinegar (available at Fresh Inspirations in all UCD Dining Commons) and check the nutrition label and ingredient lists for healthy fats to include in your diet!
With so many options and confusion about what’s healthy (and what isn’t), making healthful food choices can be difficult. The nutrient quality of food should not be solely determined by the number of calories or grams of fat – it should include all the components that make up the food as a whole (e.g. all nutrients, ingredients list, cooking and processing method). Challenge health claims on food labels and look to credible sources of nutrition information to help you distinguish “health foods” in disguise and prevent any further foods from fooling you!
Have questions about food and nutrition? Contact our nutrition expert Linda Adams via email (Linda.Adams@sodexo.com) or call the Nutrition Hotline at (530) 752-9604.