We know that fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are good for us, and that soda, donuts, and French fries are not. But between the obvious good and bad foods are dozens of other items that are not so clearly defined. Are they healthy? Are they unhealthy? It is not always so easy to tell.
The line is even further blurred by clever marketing campaigns that tout certain products as healthy when they are anything but. Fruit juices and foods labeled as low fat are prime examples. Both are packed with sugar and other additives, Healthline reported. Processed breakfast cereals, vegan "junk food" and gluten free grains are other mislabeled foods and the list does not end there.
To help you make informed decisions next time you do your grocery shopping, nutritionists dish the dirt to Reader's Digest on what food items they refuse to eat.
- Frozen foods. They might be convenient but most frozen meals are overly processed and crammed with additives, which are not good for the body.
- Cheese spread. Cheese is cheese right? Wrong! According to registered dietitian and nutritionist Michelle Jaelin, most cheese spreads are highly processed, full of additives and tend to have very little actual cheese. Rather eat the real deal.
- Hot Dogs. They might taste great, especially when topped with ketchup and mustard, but hot dogs are very high in fat and sodium but low in protein. Processed meats have also been linked to cancer so best skip the hot dogs.
- Ramen noodles. Those packaged noodles have very little nutritional value but come packed with sodium and empty calories. Swap out the noodles for whole-wheat pasta. Your body will thank you.
- Fruit yogurt. Do not let the "fruit" part of this item mislead you. Sweetened fruit yogurts are full of sugar and other additives. In fact, exercise physiologist and nutritionist Rachel Straub noted these seemingly innocent treats are no different to other desserts. Would you eat ice cream for breakfast?
- Popcorn at the movies. We are told popcorn is a healthy snack but experts are not referring to the unhealthy kind found at the movie theater, which is laden with saturated fats and tons of salt. A large tub of theater popcorn can clock up to 1000 calories and 40 grams of fat! And that is without the soda.
- Pretzels. These snacks might seem harmless but in reality, they are not. "Pretzels are basically made out of sugar — simple carbs. The refined-carbohydrate product contains no nutrients that are beneficial for health plus they are not satisfying, which is why so many people tend to overeat them," registered dietitian Cara Walsh said.
- Rice cakes. This might come as a shocker but rice cakes, which have for years been thought of as one of the healthiest snacks, are not so great. Walsh explained rice cakes are made from the type of carbohydrate that can send your blood sugar skyrocketing, then plummeting. An apple is a better option.