12 unhealthy health foods

The label may say diet or low fat, but are your favourite healthy grocery store picks really good for you? Best Health rounded up 12 unhealthy health foods to keep out of your shopping cart

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sushi rolls

1. California and dynamite rolls

A fresh roll of sushi can be a flavourful and light meal. In some cases, however, it can be a diet-buster. Some California rolls are loaded with mayonnaise and dynamite rolls are made with battered and deep-fried shrimp. Imitation crab, found in most mall-variety California rolls, is high in carbs-and so is the white rice around it. Dipped in soy sauce, these sushi rolls aren’t much better than a fast-food meal. Choose fresh, sustainable sashimi instead, and order brown rice where possible.

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2. Smoothies

Smoothies from national chains such as Orange Julius and Booster Juice are some of the most deceiving “healthy-food” culprits. Sure, they’re made with tons of fruit, but you’ll find ice cream and sugary juice in there too. A large smoothie can end up being a whole meal on its own. The 20-ounce Blackberry Storm Premium Fruit Smoothie from Orange Julius comes with a whopping 680 calories and 90 grams of sugar. If you’re craving a sweet treat, make a smoothie with fresh fruit and plain yogurt at home instead.

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date muffin

3. Bran muffins

Our fast-paced lives sometimes mean breakfast on the go. Coffee and a muffin is a handy go-to meal to start the day, and when trying to avoid the double-chocolate cake, opting for bran seems like a good move. Bran muffins can pack a lot of fat, calories and sugar, which will lead to a late-morning energy crash. Starbucks’ version, the Apple Bran Muffin, has 350 calories and 9 grams of fat. If you’re health-conscious, it might be a good idea to avoid muffins altogether: the popular coffee chain’s seemingly healthy Zucchini Walnut Muffin packs 490 calories and 28 grams of fat (and that’s before you add a latte!).

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granola bar

4. Granola bars

Granola bars are a staple for camping and hiking trips; they’re yummy and wholesome. At least, that’s how it seems. The truth behind most granola bars is that they’re loaded with sugar and fat. One serving of Nature Valley’s Roasted Almond Crunch granola bar packs 8 grams of fat and 11 grams of sugar. Still, they’re better for you than many of the chocolate- or yogurt-covered options. If you can’t give up your granola habit, Kashi granola bars are the best option, with less sugar and fat than most other brands available in Canada.

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iced tea

5. Iced tea

Refreshing and sweet, iced tea is a tempting way to cool down in the summertime heat. However, many store-bought varieties of this popular drink are made with large quantities of unhealthy corn syrup. Don’t be suckered by green tea versions or pretty packaging-iced tea is often just as bad as soda. On average, bottled iced tea has more than 15 grams of sugar in an 8-ounce serving-and most bottles have two servings in each. For a healthy swap, try this supercharged combo: squeeze the juice from one lemon into 2 cups (500 mL) of brewed green tea. Chill, then add 1 cup (250 mL) of club soda and some fresh mint.

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pita chips

6. Pita chips

They’re not deep-fried in oil, but baked pita chips are nearly as bad as that bag of Lays you’ve been avoiding. Stacy’s Pita Chips, a popular brand of the crunchy snack, has 5 grams of fat in its Simply Naked chips. That’s less than the 8 grams of fat found in the same serving size of Doritos, but the calories and sodium count are comparable in both kinds of chips-approximately 140 calories and 250 mg of sodium per 1-ounce serving.

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veggie chips

7. Veggie chips

Vegetables are good for you, right? That’s true for a serving of leafy greens with lemon juice but not so much for deep-fried veggie snacks, such as Terra Chips and Snapea Crisps, which can be found in the snack aisle of your local health-food store. They may not be loaded with preservatives and artificial flavouring like some chips, but these snacks aren’t much different when it comes to fat and calories than the bag of Doritos next to them.

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microwave meal

8. Frozen diet meals

They’re quick and convenient, so it’s no wonder that some of us pop a frozen meal in the microwave occasionally. Most of their health benefits come from the small portion sizes, which are also bound to leave you feeling unsatisfied and eventually reaching for a cookie. Many frozen diet meals also contain ingredients with tongue-twisting names like “medium chain triglycerides,” which should be sidestepped. And while low in fat, the majority of frozen dinners are high in salt. For example, many of Lean Cuisine’s products have more than a quarter of the daily recommended intake of sodium. Looking for a healthier option? Try making batches of food ahead of time and freezing them in portion-controlled packages. You’ll have a quick and easy microwaveable meal, minus the salt and additives.

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frozen yogurt

9. Frozen yogurt

Non-fat yogurt is the stuff of TV legend. On Seinfeld, Jerry, Elaine, George and Newman were duped by a frozen-yogurt shop that claimed to serve a delicious diet treat. Elaine, troubled by her expanding waistline, took the dessert to a lab only to discover that it wasn’t as healthy as she first thought. Off the screen, frozen yogurt still isn’t very healthy. The soft-serve version found in malls is low in fat, but high in sugar. A small Yogen Fruz plain low-fat vanilla yogurt has 20.2 grams of sugar before adding fruit.

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tomato juice lg

10. Vegetable juice

Vegetable juices like V8 are made from ingredients rich in vitamins, fibre and minerals but they’re no replacement for fresh veggies. The most dangerous part of these savoury drinks is the amount of salt in them. V8 100% Vegetable Juice has 470 mg of sodium per 8-ounce serving. Don’t be fooled by V8 Organic, either-it has the same amount of sodium and less calcium. Look for V8’s low-sodium option with 70 percent less salt than their regular version.

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11. Salad

You’ve probably heard it before but it deserves repeating: sometimes salad is not the healthiest option on the menu. After toppings and dressing are added, a salad is a waist-widener, rather than a low-fat lunch. Your common sense will tell you that anything with “crispy chicken” or “bacon” in its name is not the best choice, but other options are trickier. Take the healthy sounding Apple Pecan Chicken Salad from Wendy’s-with 1590 mg of sodium, 27 grams of fat and 580 calories, you may as well just order a burger. Say no to the pecans to cut a third of the fat, and eliminate the chicken to half the sodium.

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dried apricots

12. Dried fruit

Dried fruit is missing the water content in fresh fruit that makes us feel full. You’ll eat a lot more raisins than grapes and that’s more calories and sugar, but not necessarily more nutrition. Some dried fruit is sweetened, making it more like candy than fruit. A small 35-gram serving of dried apricots from President’s Choice has 13 grams of sugar; a 40-gram serving of sweetened dried cranberries has 26 grams of sugar.

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