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April 14, 2014, 12:00AM PT in Fitnovatives Blog  |  0 Comments

6 Not-so-healthy Health Foods

If you’ve been fooled into thinking that a food was healthy only to later learn that it isn’t quite as good as you thought, then you’re not alone. We hear this same complaint from our clients all the time. Here, we share a few foods to look out for so that the wool doesn’t get pulled over your eyes!

Wheat Grass

If you’ve been to a health-food store or your corner juice shop lately, then you’ve probably smelled the earthy scent of wheat grass or had it added to your green drink. Sure, it provides a concentrated source of vitamins A, C, iron and E (but so do other leafy greens!) and may make a potentially healthy addition to a balanced diet. However, fans boast that wheat grass not only boosts immunity and kills harmful bacteria in your body, but that it also helps treat cancer, anemia, diabetes and infections. There are, however, few studies about wheatgrass to back this up. And the truth is that although it is generally considered safe and it does have some healthy components, it may cause nausea, headaches, hives or swelling of your throat. And if it’s consumed raw it could be contaminated with harmful bacteria or mold, which makes it not worth the risk, especially when you can easily get the nutritional benefits from other foods.

Alternative:Stick with spinach or other leafy greens that are true superfoods without downsides.

Gluten-free Foods

These foods are all the rage and everyone seems to think that choosing gluten-free options are healthier. If you don’t have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, these foods aren’t necessarily healthier for you. In fact, gluten-free baked goods are typically loaded with more fat, sugar or artificial ingredients than traditional baked goods.

Alternative: If you don’t need to opt for gluten-free foods, simply go for those that have whole grains listed as the first ingredient and that are low in sugar and added fat.

Reduced-fat Peanut Butter

Although this may sound healthy, when manufacturers reduce the fat in peanut butter, they simply make up for the flavor by adding extra sugar or carbohydrates. The calories usually stay the same, but you lose the heart-healthy fat and gain the extra sugar.

Alternative: Go for regular peanut butter and get the good-for-your-heart fats.

Wheat Bread

These labels don’t mean much in terms of nutrients, because the foods often don’t contain many heart-healthy “whole” grains. Instead, these breads are typically made with refined grains, and may only get a sprinkling of other wholesome grains.

Alternative: Check the ingredient list to make sure “whole wheat” or the word “whole” is listed before the grain and that it is the first (and main) ingredient.

Spice Mixes

Spices are calorie-free and packed with flavor and health-promoting compounds. However spice mixes, like Spice Grill Seasoning and Rubs, for example, generally contain salt as one of the main ingredients on the label. This means that if you’re not careful the sodium in your meal can easily get out of hand.

Alternative: Get creative and mix your own spices at home.

Couscous

Most people think couscous is a whole grain, but it’s not technically a grain at all—it’s actually a combination of semolina flour and water, which makes it more like pasta. Couscous lacks the variety of nutrients found in true whole grains like faro, brown rice, bulgur and amaranth. One cup of cooked couscous has just 2 grams of fiber.

Alternative: Go for quinoa or the other whole grains. Or opt for whole-wheat couscous, which contains 5 to 6 grams of fiber per serving.

By The Nutrition Twins
The Nutrition Twins

Tammy Lakatos Shames and Elysse (“Lyssie”) Lakatos, The Nutrition Twins®, share a passion to teach people how to eat healthfully and exercise so they'll have energy to live happy lives. The twins have been featured as nutrition experts on Good Morning America, Discovery Health, Fox News, NBC, Bravo, CBS, The Learning Channel, FitTV, Oxygen Network, and Fox & Friends. They co-wrote The Nutrition Twins Veggie Cure: Expert Advice and Tantalizing Recipes for Health, Energy and Beauty, The Secret to Skinny: How Salt Makes You Fat and the 4-Week Plan to Drop A Size & Get Healthier with Simple Low Sodium Swaps. The twins are both ACE Certified Personal Trainers, and members of the American Dietetic Association and several Dietetic Practice Groups.

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