Fraud foods that we believed were healthy for us, are actually sneaky little diet wreckers. Take Caesar salad, for example, a staple of many peoples diets. You might think that because it’s a salad, it’s fine. But just a small bowl has 300-400 calories and 30 grams of fat, thanks to loads of dressing. And, there are many foods just like it.
Fraud: Fresh Smoothies
That berry blend at a smoothie shop can have a whopping 80 grams of sugar, 350 calories or more, little protein, and often no fresh fruit. Fruit concentrates are often used instead of fresh fruit. And sorbet, ice cream, and sweeteners can make these no better than a milkshake.
Fraud: Energy Bars
Many of these are simply enhanced candy bars with more calories (up to 500) and a higher price tag. Their compact size also leaves many people unsatisfied. A few bites, and it’s gone.
Fraud: Chicken Burrito
With beans and no red meat, what’s the problem? About 1,000 calories and plenty of saturated fat — cheese, sour cream, and the fat in the jumbo flour tortilla all contribute. And when the burrito is as big as your forearm, the serving is just too big.
Fraud: Sugar-Free Foods
Sugar-free food sounds like a no-brainer for weight loss. But it can be a problem if you think you can then have a large order of fries or a big dessert. Upsizing the fries adds nearly 300 calories to your meal. If you eat more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight.
Fraud: Enhanced Water
Vitamins are commonly added to bottled water and advertised on the front label. But some brands also add sugar, taking water from zero calories to as many as 125.
Fraud: 2% Milk
Two-percent milk sounds healthier than “whole” milk. But you may not realize that it still has more than half the saturated fat of whole milk. Here’s what’s in a cup of milk:
Whole milk (3.25%) = 150 cal., 8g fat, 5g sat. fat
Reduced-fat (2%) = 130 cal., 5g fat, 3g sat. fat
Skim (nonfat) = 80 cal., 0g fat, 0g sat. fat
Fraud: 2% Milk Latte
It’s tempting to choose reduced-fat milk in a latte and reward yourself with whipped cream on top. But this trade-off still adds up to 580 calories and 15 grams of saturated fat in a 20-ounce white chocolate mocha. That’s more than a quarter-pound burger with cheese.
Fraud: Turkey Hot Dogs
The nutritional content of turkey hot dogs varies from brand to brand. It may say “less fat” on the front label, but when you check the fine print on the back, you find there’s still plenty of fat left in each sausage. Don’t be a turkey.
Fraud: Breakfast Muffins
Muffins beat doughnuts, but they’re still mainly sugary little cakes of refined flour. One store-bought muffin can hit 500 calories with 11 teaspoons of sugar.
Fraud: Low-Fat Granola
The low-fat version of this crunchy cereal has only 10% fewer calories and is still full of sugar. Plus, the low-fat label can easily lead you to overeat. A study at Cornell University found that people ate 49% more granola when they thought it was low-fat, easily blowing past the measly 10% calorie savings.
Fraud: Low-Fat Yogurt
Yogurt is a nutrition superstar, rich in protein and calcium. But many yogurts have lots of added sugar. Some brands add 30 or more grams of fructose, sucrose, or other sweeteners. Compare plain to fruited yogurts to see the difference between the sugars that are naturally in milk and added sugar listed on the nutrition facts panel.
Fraud: Multigrain Products
When you see “multigrain” or “seven grain” on bread, pasta, or waffles, flip the package over and check the nutrition label. Even with more than one type of grain, the product could be made largely from refined grains, such as white flour, which have been stripped of fiber and many nutrients.
Fraud: Light Olive Oil
Anything labeled “light” is enticing when you’re watching your weight. But often the food is not what you expect. Light olive oil, for instance, has the same calorie and fat content as other types. It’s just lighter in color and taste.
Fraud: Added Omega-3
Some yogurt, milk, eggs, cereal, and other foods boast of added omega-3. But they may not have the kinds of omega-3 best known to help your heart: EPA and DHA. Or there’s only a smidgen — about as much as in one bite of salmon. Instead, they may have ALA from vegetable sources. ALA is not as potent or beneficial as DHA/EPA.
Fraud: Iced Tea
The antioxidants in iced tea don’t make it a health food. Too much added sugar can turn a tall glass into a health hazard. A 20-ounce bottle can have more than 200 calories and 59 grams of sugar.
Fraud: Microwave Popcorn
The word “snack” can be a little misleading on microwave popcorn. One popular brand packs 9 grams of fat into each “snack size” bag.
Fraud: Iceberg Lettuce
This popular lettuce is big on crunch but a big “zero” when it comes to vitamins and flavor. And its boring taste leads many people to overdo it on the dressing and toppings.
Fraud: Salty Toppings
Processed artichoke hearts, chickpeas, and olives are just a few of the salt shockers lurking on the salad bar. To avoid getting too much sodium, limit anything that comes out of a can. Also pass up cured meats. Choose beans or tuna, but not both.
Cabbage is fine, but coleslaw can be a diet disaster. At one popular restaurant, a small cup (4.5 ounces) has 260 calories and 21 grams of fat, a third of most people’s daily limit, thanks to the mayonnaise.
Fraud: Banana Chips
Deep-fried bananas don’t look greasy, but just one ounce has 145 calories, 9 grams of fat, and 8 grams of saturated fat: about the same as a fast-food hamburger.