9 Surprisingly Unhealthy Foods

Think you're eating healthy? Think again! Many of the foods we often assume are healthy can be junk food in disguise. Read on to learn the top nine foods to avoid.

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    'Miracle' Juices

    A juice label that shows fresh fruit and words like “immune promoting” and “antioxidants” is appealing to consumers. Some new fruit drinks and smoothies even claim to quench the skin and help us think clearer. Juice may taste good, but it has almost no fiber and is high in sugar, similar to soda. Instead of drinking excess calories, eat whole fruit. It will fill you up and save you calories.
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    Organic Foods

    Eating a whole pint of organic ice cream is going to make you pack on just as many pounds as a pint of non-organic. Sugar is sugar—organic or not. High-fructose corn syrup, honey, cane sugar, white sugar, maple syrup, or agave nectar all have around 16-20 calories per teaspoon. Organic junk food doesn’t make the junk food better for you. Organic potato chips, toaster pastries and chocolate muffins are still as high in fat and calories as non-organic treats.
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    'Natural' Foods

    When you buy a product that says “100% Natural,” “Healthy,” or “No Artificial Ingredients,” do you actually read the list of ingredients? The USDA defines "natural" as food that doesn’t contain any artificial ingredients, coloring or chemical preservatives. Just because an ingredient isn’t artificial, doesn’t make it good for you. Meat and poultry are considered natural if they are “minimally processed,” however, they could still be full of flavoring and raised on a factory farm. A can of chicken noodle soup claiming it is natural can still be made up of filtered water, high-fructose corn syrup, and chicken flavoring. Doesn’t sound too natural.
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    Multi-grain seems to be all the rage in almost every product on the shelves. Everything from bread to crackers and cereal are claiming to be a healthy because they are made with multi-grains—and it looks like consumers are falling for it. Multi-grain does not mean whole grain, it just means that somewhere in that box of sugar puffs there is a trace of more than one type of grain. To get the maximum amount of nutrients, look for products that say “100% whole grain,” which means you are getting the whole grain’s kernel. But, just because a bag of cookies says it is made with 100 percent whole grain, doesn’t change the fact that they may still be loaded with chocolate chips and sugar!
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    Granola may be “natural,” but it’s also a very calorie-dense food. Most granola cereals list their serving size as a quarter-cup, with 160 calories per serving. It’s safe to say most people are not satisfied with a quarter-cup of cereal—at least 1 cup is more like it. That adds up to 640 calories, and that’s without the milk! If you love granola, stick to using it as a topping for yogurt or fruit. And don’t forget, even when it is covered in “healthy” honey or Craisins, it still adds sugar.
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    Most energy bars are closer to candy bars than nutritious snacks. They are very high in calories, and even higher in sugar. The main ingredients are usually sugar, refined flour and corn syrup. Another mistake people make with energy bars is eating them as snacks throughout the day. An average energy bar has enough calories to count for an entire meal. A better choice would be a piece of fruit or a half a sandwich on whole wheat bread.
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    Instant Oatmeal

    Healthy consumers know not to buy sugary cold cereals, but make a big mistake with sugary hot ones. Chances are, if your instant oatmeal packet says “maple,” “apple cinnamon,” or “peaches and cream,” it has more than 12 grams of sugar per serving. Whole oats are much healthier and can be just as quick as the instant kind when you make them in the microwave.
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    Rice Cakes

    If you are craving a salty snack, grabbing a rice cake may be better than ripping into a bag of potato chips, but they offer almost no nutritional value. Flavored versions are often high in sodium and sugar, which can lead to eating more than you originally planned. They are also very low in fiber, so even after eating several rice cakes, you may find yourself not feeling full.
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    In theory, yogurt is supposed to be a healthy food. It’s a low-fat source of calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, and protein. But, when manufacturers load it up with sugar, flavoring and coloring, the concept of a healthy snack goes out the window. Some brands have even gotten into the habit of adding candy. To stay in the right direction with yogurt, keep it simple. Ideally, it should have two ingredients—milk and live cultures.
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