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Fake Health Foods to Avoid

3 So-Called Healthy Foods That Aren't

We are excited to share one of our fave stories from Shape by Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, here on FitSugar.

This morning I visited The Early Show to talk to host Erica Hill about healthy imposters — selections that seem nutritionally superior, but really, not so much! Here are a few examples:

Veggie Sticks or Puffed Veggie Snacks

They may look like dried veggies but the first ingredient in many of these snacks is potato flour with veggies far lower in the ingredient list (which means they make up a smaller percentage of each bite). They also tend to have more sodium — up to twice as much — and you only save about 30 calories and 3 g of fat per serving compared to their traditional counterparts. Stick with good old fashioned potato chips, as long as the only ingredients are potatoes, pure vegetable oil, and salt. They're much more natural and potatoes are a good source of potassium and antioxidants.

Reduced Fat Peanut Butter

Reduced fat PB can pack the exact same number of calories per serving and usually more sugar than regular PB. That's because they aren't able to take the fat out, so they have to add sugar or carbs to displace the fat content. Plus, the fat in peanut butter is "good" heart healthy monounsaturated fat (or MUFAs), which has been shown to reduce belly fat. Stay true to all natural regular PB or other natural nut butters, like almond, cashew, pecan, etc.

Keep on reading to learn one more food to avoid.

2 Percent Milk (or Cottage Cheese, Yogurt, Ricotta, etc.)

2 percent sounds lean and it is reduced fat from whole milk, but that percent represents the weight of the milk that's fat, not the percent of calories from fat. In reality over one third of the calories in each glass of 2 percent milk are pure fat, mostly saturated fat, the solid kind that clogs arteries and ups the risk of heart disease. According to the Dietary Guidelines, everyone 2 years and older should be drinking 1 percent or skim milk, which packs the same amount of protein and calcium as 2 percent. If you like the creaminess of 2 percent, look for Skim Plus. It has no fat but it's thicker and whiter from the addition of 3 extra grams of protein per cup.


For 6 more "foods that fool" check out my Early Show segment here.


Cynthia Sass

Cynthia Sass
is a registered dietitian with master's degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV she's a SHAPE contributing editor and nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays. Her latest New York Times best seller is Cinch! Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.

Image Source: Thinkstock
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Join The Conversation
GummiBears GummiBears 4 years
I used to inhale a bag of those "veggie snacks" until I read the amount of sodium it contains. I pretty much 86'ed those snacks. But on the sodium front, I am pretty good. I usually don't consume a lot of salty foods unless I am craving something salty which occurs once in a great while.
elizlovescrisro elizlovescrisro 4 years
Reading the nutrition facts and ingredients is so important! I was "tricked" into buying those veggie snacks, but when I actually read the stats I realized I was only putting junk in my body.
amber512 amber512 4 years
My nieces and nephews LOVE puffed veggie snacks. And it's actually a lot better than what they would eat otherwise.
Gabriela-Une-Vie-Saine Gabriela-Une-Vie-Saine 4 years
I never understood the concept of reduced fat PB. Such a silly product!
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