You may be surprised at some of the foods to avoid at your grocery store. The reason is that there is a long list of products that have effectively marketed themselves as being healthy, when the truth is far more complex. These items are more likely to leave you lacking the nutrients you’re seeking and struggling with your weight than to help you out.
Spotting Foods to Avoid Can Be Tricky
There’s no wonder we often eat the foods we should avoid. Spotting them can be tricky. Misleading claims in the media, misinformation shared over social media, and deceptive marketing statements right on packages can leave us all struggling to determine what is good for our health and what isn’t.
Even some of the foods we’ve believed in for our entire lives can turn out to be far less nutritious than we think. These foods to avoid simply don’t have a functional place in our healthy diets and should be left as rare treats instead of daily staples.
What Are “Healthy” Foods to Avoid?
If you feel like you’ve been doing everything right to eat healthy but are still struggling with your nutrition and weight management, you might find this list of foods to avoid to be very helpful. Keep these items out of your shopping cart on most weeks and save them for rare occasions instead (if you need to have them at all).
1. Dried Fruit
Dried fruit sounds innocent enough. After all, it’s just a fruit with the moisture sucked out of it, right? This makes it a great way to get enough of this food group…doesn’t it? Nope! This “healthy” snack is actually one of the top foods to avoid. This is the case for several reasons.
The first is that many of these fruits are sweetened and added preservative chemicals are added to them. They’re not necessarily just dehydrated fruits with no other ingredients. The second factor is that you likely eat them very differently than you would fresh fruit. You wouldn’t think much of having six dried apricots…but keep in mind that you’ve just consumed six apricots. Would you sit down with a bowl of apricots and eat one after the next until you’d had six or more? Suddenly, your sugar and calorie intake will spike after eating what appears to be a very small amount of food!
2. Coconut Oil
After all the headlines a few years ago praising coconut oil as the ideal healthy fat, you’re likely stunned to see it on this list. As trendy as it is, the American Dietetic Association, the American Heart Association, and the American Medical Association all recommend consuming it in rare, tiny amounts, if ever. Solid research has yet to back any of the miraculous sounding claims often linked to this ingredient. It remains high in saturated fat, which is a known contributor to heart disease risk. Moreover, 1 tablespoon contains 120 calories. Therefore, regardless of its “goodness” or “badness” it should be consumed in small amounts because its sheer caloric density can sabotage weight control strategies.
In this case, it’s not that you need to think of honey as foods to avoid as much as one to think of in the same way as you would regular sugar or even high fructose corn syrup. When it all comes down to it, these are all added sugars. Honey may have some additional beneficial properties, but it is a sugar at its core. You may use it instead of white sugar if you want its added benefits, but don’t forget to keep its use low, just as you would any other sugar.
4. Nutrition Bars
Nutrition bars can seem like the ultimate in on-the-go snacks. You may even think of them as a meal replacement when your day spins out of control, and you just can’t find time for a more traditional breakfast or lunch. However, when you have a look at their ingredients lists and their nutrition tables, it doesn’t take long to see that calling them nutrition bars is quite misleading. They’re typically high in calories and high in sugar in order to make them palatable.
Even some of the top-rated bars have over 300 calories and can give you a hit of 18 grams of added sugars. When you consider that every 4 grams of sugar is a teaspoon, that bar contains 4 and half teaspoons of sugar. If you were to eat a healthy meal, would you scoop four and a half teaspoons of sugar onto it and consider it healthy? If you need a food packed with nutrition that is easy to bring with you and fast to eat, just pack a banana.
5. “Nitrate/Nitrite-Free”, “Uncured”, “Natural” bacon, hot dogs and sausages
These products seem like a healthier option than traditional bacon, hot dogs and sausages, but they are still foods to avoid for a surprising reason. The labels claim that they are better because they don’t contain sodium nitrite. They use celery powder or celery extract instead. Sounds great, right? Celery is a vegetable, so it must be healthy. Not so fast!
The celery extract or celery powder used in these products also contain nitrites. Moreover, when they’re exposed to heat, they combine with secondary amines and form compounds called nitrosamines. Those compounds are known to be quite carcinogenic!
As a result, the World Health Organization has labeled hot dogs, bacon and sausage as Group 1 carcinogens regardless of whether they are cured or uncured, whether they contain sodium nitrates or nitrates from celery salts and celery powder, and whether they are made from pork, beef, chicken or turkey.