We all know that sodas and sugar cookies are bad for us, but the grocery aisles are stocked with seemingly healthy foods that are best avoided.
Here, nutrition experts share the foods they would, surprisingly, never eat.
“Most [store-bought] smoothies contain big portions of fruit, processed protein powders and sweeteners like honey and agave, which albeit natural, are very high in fructose and thus, sugar,” says Nikita Kapur, practice manager and senior clinical dietitian at Compass Nutrition. And they’re too easy and quick for your body to digest. Kapur says you’re better off eating the smoothie’s contents whole, which will take longer for your system to process. “This not only makes you more satisfied, slowing down the process of eating, but also improves your metabolic rate!”
Typically loaded with calories, fat and carbs, they are “essentially extra thick smoothies with toppings,” says Tanya Zuckerbrot, an NYC private practice dietitian and the founder of the F-Factor Diet. Take Liquiteria’s Peanut Butter Açai Bowl: It weights in at a hefty 840 calories — nearly half the average daily allowance of calories — plus 32 grams of fat and 127 grams of carbohydrates, roughly half the amount of carbs recommended to consume in a day. Kelly LeVeque, health coach, nutritionist and author of “Body Love,” calls them “sugar bombs.” And, she says, the typically large amount of fructose, found in the myriad fruits often included in an açai bowl “turns to fat faster than other forms of carbohydrates.”
Recent studies have suggested that eating low-fat dairy to control weight may be a moot effort. The problem is twofold. “You’re cutting out [fat] for potentially no reason,” says Diana K. Rice, a registered dietitian in Jersey City who has a Web site called the Baby Steps Dietitian. “On top of that, those products tend to have a lot of additives such as sugar or artificial sweeteners to compensate for lack of taste.” Moreover, a low-fat or nonfat yogurt won’t keep you satiated nearly as long as the full-fat variety.
Almond or rice milk
When it comes to nutritional value, these milk alternatives just don’t compare to dairy, especially considering the high markup. “There’s been criticism about how you’re basically just buying expensive filtered water with a couple of ground-up almonds,” says Rice. Varieties that claim to have more calcium than traditional milk are simply fortified. To save a buck, Rice suggests you “take a Tums while you’re eating almonds because that’s the same source of calcium that [manufacturers] using.”
She especially won’t recommend it for your kids since they won’t be “getting the same amount of protein as . . . in cow’s milk.” To parents of dairy-free kids, she suggests soy milk for its comparable protein content.
Your average protein or fiber bars are simply “glorified candy bars with whey and/or soy protein isolates thrown in . . . paired with a lot of the bad things you can find in candy bars, like high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners and agave nectar,” says Kimberly Snyder, nutritionist and author of the “Beauty Detox” book series and “Radical Beauty.” Kapur notes that there’s plenty of protein and fiber to be had in portable “whole food sources . . . such as legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts [and] seeds.”