10 "Healthy” Foods That Are the Opposite of Nutritious

10 "Healthy” Foods That Are the Opposite of Nutritious

Cheapism; Inna Dodor/istockphoto; manyakotic / iStock

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10 "Healthy” Foods That Are the Opposite of Nutritious
Cheapism; Inna Dodor/istockphoto; manyakotic / iStock

Health Food Imposters

It's getting trickier to eat healthy these days. One minute, nutritionists swear by soy; the next, they're convinced it'll kill you. (It's like they're running a food-themed soap opera.) Meanwhile, food companies and their slick marketing teams slap whatever buzzwords they think will sell on the labels. Remember when it was simple? Fast food = bad; fruits and veggies = good. Now, junk food wears a "healthy" disguise, tricking us into thinking it's nutritious when it's anything but.

Here are 10 "healthy" foods that might not be as nutritious as they seem.


1. Store Bought Granola & Granola Bars

Store-bought granola is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, posing as the golden child of breakfast foods but hiding a nasty secret. While the whole grains and nuts are the health bait, granola cereals and bars are loaded with artificial flavorings, hydrogenated oils, and colors. Also, a single serving can have as much sugar as a can of soda, which doesn't exactly scream "health food." 

For a truly healthier option, you can make a homemade granola and choose alternatives like honey and olive oil for the sugar and oil. 

Flavored yogurt
ToscaWhi / iStock

2. Flavored Yogurt

Flavored yogurt markets itself as a gut-friendly, calcium-rich snack, but many varieties are basically pudding with probiotics. Most flavored yogurts contain high amounts of added sugar, sometimes rivaling candy bars— yogurt is not supposed to be sweet, it's sour and tangy. One little container can sneak in 20 grams of sugar or more, which is about five teaspoons.

If you’re aiming for a healthier option, opt for plain Greek yogurt and add your own fresh fruit or a drizzle of honey. That way, you control the sugar and keep it truly healthy.

Seasoned Kale Chips

3. Veggie Chips

Kudos for swapping to a healthier snack, but don't get duped by veggie chips. They're just junk food in a kale costume. Like their potato cousins, they're deep-fried in hydrogenated oils and loaded with salt. They pack the same calories, fat, and sodium—sometimes even more.

The processing strips away most of the vegetables' actual nutrients, leaving behind a crunchy shell of empty calories.

For a real veggie snack, you’re better off munching on raw carrots or bell pepper slices. At least those have vitamins and fiber intact. 

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Oatly Oat Milk

4. Oat Milk

Oat milk is the darling of the dairy-free world, but it can be a hidden sugar bomb. Many commercial brands add sweeteners to improve taste, pushing sugar content to similar levels as a glass of soda. Even unsweetened versions often contain natural sugars from oats, which can still spike blood sugar levels.

Moreover, oat milk lacks the protein that cow's milk provides, which is essential for muscle repair and overall health. 

For a truly nutritious dairy alternative, consider unsweetened almond milk or soy milk, which typically offer lower sugar and higher protein.

Gluten-Free Snack
manyakotic / iStock

5. Gluten-Free Snacks

Gluten-free labels can trick people into thinking they're choosing a healthier option, but that's not always the case. Many gluten-free snacks replace wheat with starches and refined flours that can spike blood sugar levels. They often lack fiber and essential nutrients found in whole grains.

Additionally, to mimic the texture and taste of gluten-containing foods, manufacturers often add extra sugar and fats. So, unless you have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, stick to whole, minimally processed foods.

Plant-Based Protein
vaaseenaa / iStock

6. Plant-Based Protein

Plant-based protein can be a healthier alternative to meat — if it's homemade and you know the source. Store-bought plant-based proteins like burgers and vegan meats are often packed with highly processed ingredients and additives. They usually come with high sodium levels, artificial flavors, and preservatives to boost taste and shelf life. Plus, some plant-based proteins don't provide a complete amino acid profile, missing essential nutrients your body needs. Opt for whole food sources like beans, lentils, and quinoa, or choose minimally processed products with simple ingredient lists.

Bottled Smoothies
Ahmad Darmansyah / iStock

7. Bottled Smoothies

Bottled smoothies claim to be a convenient way to get your fruits and veggies, but they often come with a hefty sugar load. Many store-bought smoothies use fruit juice as a base, which lacks fiber and is high in sugar. A single bottle can contain as much sugar as several pieces of fruit combined.

Bottle of coconut oil and fresh coconuts with palm leaf on brown background.
Inna Dodor/istockphoto

8. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has been hailed as a superfood, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. This oil is over 80% saturated fat, which can raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. High LDL cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease, making coconut oil less heart-friendly than you might think. But hey, it's still fantastic for your hair and skin.

Cooking Turkey Bacon

9. Turkey Bacon

Turkey bacon struts around as the healthier cousin of traditional bacon, but it's often loaded with sodium and preservatives. To make it taste good, manufacturers pump turkey bacon full of salt and sometimes even sugar. A single serving (two stripes of bacon) can contain 380 milligrams of sodium, which is a significant chunk of your daily limit.

Moreover, the processing removes many of the nutrients found in fresh turkey. While it’s lower in fat than pork bacon, the high sodium content can still contribute to hypertension and other health issues. 

If you’re looking to cut back on pork, try lean cuts of fresh turkey or chicken instead.

Homemade yogurt in glass jar on wooden table.

10. Fat-Free and Low-Fat Products

Fat-free and low-fat products might seem like a dieter’s dream, but they often replace fat with sugar and artificial additives to maintain taste and texture. This swap can lead to a higher overall calorie count and a spike in blood sugar levels. For example, fat-free yogurt might contain more sugar than its full-fat counterpart to compensate for the lost flavor.

Moreover, some vitamins and nutrients are fat-soluble, meaning your body needs fat to absorb them effectively.