It’s easy to be fooled by foods that wear a healthy halo, especially when we’re trying to make better eating choices. Here’s the truth behind 10 foods that might seem like they’re on your side in the health department, but actually aren’t. Learn what makes them less than ideal and what to opt for in their place.

A woman is shopping in the supermarket aisle, browsing through foods marketed as healthy that aren't.
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Multi-Grain Bread

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While multi-grain bread is often marketed as a healthier choice, it can sometimes be made from refined grains instead of whole grains, stripping away fiber and nutrients. Consumers should check for “whole grains” on the label to ensure they’re getting the full health benefits.

Plant-Based Milks

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Almond and oat milks have surged in popularity as dairy-free alternatives, but they often come with added flavors, sugars, and stabilizers, including various oils to improve texture and taste. These oils can increase the calorie content and potentially add unhealthy fats, diminishing the health benefits. Choosing unsweetened varieties without added oils ensures you’re getting a healthier version if you choose to consume plant-based milks.

Granola

A stack of granola bars on a white plate.
Chocolate Granola Bars. Photo credit: Running to the Kitchen.

Granola is often seen as a healthy breakfast option but is usually high in sugars and fats, making it more akin to a dessert. Reading labels carefully to choose options with lower sugar content and more whole ingredients is crucial for a truly healthy start to your day.

Sports Drinks

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Marketed for their electrolyte-replenishing qualities, sports drinks are often unnecessary for the average exerciser and can contribute added sugars to one’s diet. Moreover, many contain artificial food dyes to enhance their colorful appeal, which have been linked to health concerns in some studies. Staying hydrated with water or coconut water is typically a healthier and safer option for most activities.

Dried Fruit

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Dried fruit can be a convenient source of nutrients and fiber, but it’s also high in sugar and calories, especially when eaten in large quantities. Some are even coated with additional sugars or syrups, making them more like candy than fruit. Portion control is key when enjoying this chewy snack.

Yogurt

A woman's hand is holding a jar of yogurt with blueberries.
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Yogurt, specifically flavored varieties, can contain as much sugar as a dessert. While it does offer beneficial probiotics, choosing plain yogurt and adding your own fresh fruit can provide the health benefits without the extra sugar.

Protein/Energy Bars

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Many protein and energy bars are essentially glorified candy bars, packed with sugars, fats, and calories, undermining their healthful image. Look for bars with minimal processed ingredients and sugars, high in protein and fiber, to genuinely support your fitness goals.

Gluten-Free Processed Foods

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Eating gluten-free if necessary for a certain subset of people but doing so doesn’t automatically mean healthy. Many gluten-free processed foods are high in sugar, fat, and calories to improve taste and texture. They can also lack essential nutrients found in their gluten-containing counterparts, so reading labels for nutritional content is crucial and be sure not to conflate gluten-free with “healthier,” they’re not synonymous.

Plant-Based Meat

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Plant-based meats have gained popularity for reduing meat consumption, but most are highly processed with a long list of ingredients, including added fats and sodium. Opting for whole food plant-based protein sources when possible is a healthier choice if you want to eat less meat.

Veggie Chips

Mediterranean Eggplant Chips in a metal bowl.
Mediterranean Eggplant Chips. Photo credit: Running to the Kitchen.

Veggie chips might seem like a wholesome alternative to potato chips, but they often contain just as much fat and calories, sometimes even more. They can also be low in actual vegetable content, making them no better than their potato-based cousins. Opt for actual vegetables or check for chips made with whole vegetables and better quality oil choices like olive oil or coconut oil rather than seeds oils.

The Top 10 Mercury-Heavy Fish and What to Have Instead

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Navigating the world of seafood can sometimes feel like sailing through murky waters, especially when it comes to mercury content. While fish is a fantastic source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, certain types pack a punch with high levels of mercury, posing health risks. We’re shining a light on those fish and offering up a net-full of safer alternatives so you can make informed choices to enjoy seafood that’s not only tasty but also good for your health.

See them here: The Top 10 Mercury-Heavy Fish and What to Have Instead

Which Side Are You On?

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Ever wonder why some foods split the room, with half the table diving in and the other half turning up their noses? It’s not just about picky eating; there’s a whole science behind why certain tastes and textures either hit the spot or miss the mark entirely. From the genetic makeup that affects how we perceive flavors to the love-it-or-hate-it textures, we dive deep into the curious world of polarizing foods.

See Them Here: 11 Foods You Either Love Or Hate – Which Side Are You On?

The Best Fast Food Sides That Go Beyond Fries

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Let’s face it, when we think fast food, it’s the burgers and fries that usually steal the show. But what about the unsung heroes of the menu, those side dishes that can turn a quick meal into something special? From the crispy, golden perfection of onion rings to the fluffy, buttery bliss of biscuits, there’s a whole world of flavor waiting to be explored. We’re diving into some of the most delicious and underrated fast food sides out there.

See Them Here: The Best Fast Food Sides That Go Beyond Fries

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Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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