Five Surprisingly Unhealthy, Seemingly Healthy Foods

unhealthy foods

Photo: Rebecca Siegel

Flickr Creative Commons

These days, many foods are marketed as healthy, despite the fact that they don’t pack much of a punch when it comes to nutrient density. Some of these “health foods” are, indeed, better than chowing down on doughnuts and fries, but they aren’t nearly as good for you as the commercials and packaging make them seem.

If you’re striving to found your diet on foods that provide the most nutrients for the calories, here are some seemingly healthy items you should consider crossing off your grocery list.

Fat-Free Flavored Yogurt

Sixteen to 28 grams of sugar, oh my! While fat free, many varieties of “healthy” yogurts are flavored with tons of sugar, as much as some desserts. The next time you’re buying strawberry or blueberry yogurt, check out the nutrition facts and make a cupcake’s worth of sugar your afternoon snack.

The better choice: Buy unflavored yogurt and sweeten it with fresh fruit or a little honey.


This food is another hidden sugar mine. It seems so healthy, with rolled oats, nuts, and dried fruits, but the sugar content can be extreme, not to mention that eating an entire bowl can pack a 500-calorie punch.

The better choice: If you love granola, check the labeling. A few varieties have less than 4 grams of sugar, though granola is almost always high in calories.

Dried Fruit

Mangos are healthy, so dried mangos must be, too, right? Unfortunately, some manufacturers add sulfur to enhance shelf life, while others add sugar to sweeten taste. Also, a serving of dried fruit won’t fill you up as much as plain fruit, since the water and fiber have been removed.

The better choice: Eat the real thing, not the dried version. If you like the convenience of dried fruit, try fresh varieties that are naturally portable, like bananas and apples.

Blue Corn Chips

At some point, it got around that blue corn chips were somehow healthier than yellow or white ones — but it simply isn’t true. The fat, sodium, and calorie counts are almost identical.

The better choice: To quench that crunch craving, try baking kale in olive oil for eight minutes. It comes out crunchy and delicious, but with far fewer calories and more nutrients than any chip.

“Lean” Frozen Meals

They may be lower in calories than many meals, but frozen dinners just don’t cut it when it comes to nutrients. Most are full of preservatives and sodium and short on vegetables, whose rich fiber content would actually fill you up.

The better choice: You can achieve many quick meals just by steaming fresh vegetables, broiling lean meats, and cooking instant brown rice or couscous. With the proper spicing up, these foods can be incredibly delicious and so much better for you.

Want A Personalized Weight Loss Plan?

If you’re struggling to lose weight, consult with one of our doctors and receive your own personalized plan. Our weight-loss programs are based in science, not fads, and are customized to every patient’s needs and goals. Give us a call: (215) 508-5555 (Roxborough) or (215) 572-1580 (Glenside)! Or find out more about our nutrition services here.
The medical professionals at Lyceum Physical Medicine wish you the best in your journey to better health!

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