Five “Healthy” Foods to Avoid
Morgan Medeiros MSc
July 9, 2018

healthy foods to avoidFilling your cart with seemingly healthy food, only to find your weight at a total standstill? Do you know the real difference between real healthy options and the foods to avoid?

Weight management can be tricky: thanks to social media and poor nutrition literacy, most of us aren’t very good at gauging what’s healthy and what’s not.

Many foods wear “health halos”: connotations of healthfulness that make us apt to pick them even when they don’t have a functional place in our overall diets.

If you’re struggling to manage your weight- or just trying to eat a little healthier- you might want to consider kicking the following five foods to avoid out of your shopping cart.

#1 Foods to Avoid: Dried Fruit

At first glance dried fruit appears to be the ultimate shelf-stable, packable snack: it’s fruit, for crying out loud! Unfortunately, like fruit juice, the super-condensed nature of dried fruit makes this snack super high in calories and sugar, eliciting a similar impact on blood sugar to candy, soda, and other foods with high glycemic load and high glycemic index.

Consider than a 1 cup serving of fresh mango contains 100 calories, 26g carbohydrate, and 23g sugar, whereas ⅓ cup of dried mango contains the same number of calories and the same amount of carbohydrate and sugar.

#2 Foods to Avoid: Coconut Oil

While coconut oil has become trendy in the last few years, the American Dietetic Association, American Medical Association, and American Heart Association still recommend avoiding it, as research has yet to give it the green light thanks to its high saturated fat content, which may increase risk for heart disease.

Additionally, a 1 Tbsp serving contains 120 calories. Remember that fats and oils- regardless of source- add up fast!

#3 Foods to Avoid: Honey

While honey does contain antioxidants, it also contains just as many calories and just as much sugar as regular old sugar or high fructose corn syrup. When it comes to added sugars, all are equal with regards to weight and chronic disease.

#4 Foods to Avoid: Nutrition Bars

Nutrition bars can be really convenient snacks and meal replacements, but even seemingly healthy options are really high in sugar and calories for a really small serving size. Consider the super popular “Perfect Bars”, which require refrigeration, reinforcing the idea of a fresh alternative to traditional shelf stable bars. look pretty great: they appear to be so healthy, in fact, that they require refrigeration.

Unfortunately, like most bars, Perfect Bars leave much to be desired, containing about 330 calories and an eyebrow raising 18g of added sugar. For context, that’s 72% of the maximum recommended intake for added sugar, and just 3g shy of a package of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

In need of a portable snack? Pack a banana instead.

#5 Foods to Avoid: “Natural”, “Uncured”, or “Nitrate/Nitrite-Free” Hot Dogs, Sausage, or Bacon

While these products sound healthier off the bat, they still contain nitrite in the form of celery extract or celery powder.

Still, celery derivatives sound like a better alternative to sodium nitrite,right?

Unfortunately, it’s more complicated than that.

When exposed to heat, the nitrites naturally found in celery extract or powder combine with secondary amines to create compounds known as nitrosamines, which are highly carcinogenic.

For this reason, hot dogs, bacon, and sausage are all classified as Group 1 Carcinogens by the World Health Organization, regardless of whether those items are turkey, chicken, beef, pork, cured, or uncured. For every 2 oz consumed per week, risk of colorectal cancers increase by about 18%.

Morgan Medeiros is a certified nutritionist, holding a both a Bachelor and Master’s Degree in Clinical Nutrition. Morgan completed her undergraduate education at Central Washington University, and her graduate education at Northeastern University. During her time as a graduate student, Morgan focused her area of expertise in health education, weight management, and behavioral change. Morgan has experience working in areas of nutritional neuroscience and disease prevention, obesity prevention, and weight loss. Morgan also works in areas of nutritional analysis and menu labeling for restaurants, where she is able to creatively bridge her interest in food culture and health education. In her free time, Morgan enjoys traveling, reading, writing, running, and spending time with her family and friends (including- most importantly- her dog, Clyde).

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