Is your health food really healthy?

Five foods that may not be as healthy as you think

Have you ever seen those bags of yogurt-covered fruit bits or fruit-flavored gummy snacks in the aisles of the supermarket? Most people might assume them to be a healthy snack choice for themselves and even their children.

andrea hill

Andrea Hill

Without a doubt many of us are deceived everyday when we pick up a food item that claims it is ‘fortified with vitamins’ and ‘made with real juice’. The fact is if we were to take a closer look at some of these foods we would soon realise that they aren’t as healthy as we think.

Words like yogurt and fruit positively glow with halos, because we consider these foods healthy in their natural state. The ingredient list of packaged food items can often tell you if that ‘healthy’ food is really what it claims to be. If the list begins with sugar and/or partially hydrogenated oils you can assume that food item is not the healthiest choice. A snack size bag of most fruit snack products can easily supply the equivalent of nine teaspoons of sugar!! I don’t think any parent out there would send their children to school with nine packets of sugar as a snack.

Let’s take a closer look at five foods that sound healthy but may not be as healthy as you think:


Although most of us could use more vegetables in our diet, it is amazing how fast the calories and fat can climb when the toppings end up taking over that salad. Some fast food salads offer as many calories and grams of fat as a deluxe burger, not to mention a whole lot more sodium. Wendy’s Chicken BLT Salad rings it at 790 calories, 53 grams of fat, and a whopping 1740 milligrams of sodium, propelling it into the league of Wendy’s Half Pound Double with cheese (710 calories, 40 grams of fat and 1440 milligrams of sodium). Always check out the nutritional information on fast food salads and read the label on the dressing packet as this is often where the majority of the calories come from. Otherwise, watch those toppings at the salad bar – cheese and croutons in particular!


Although smoothies can be a great way of getting your recommended fruit servings, some coffee-chain smoothies can weigh in at over 400 calories and over 60 grams of sugar!! If ordering from a café avoid the large size. Instead go for kiddie size or tall size, ask for non-fat milk or yogurt, and tell them to use only fruit and no syrups!


Granola sounds healthy, but it is often high in calories, sugar, and fat. If you are trying to limit calories to lose weight, remember that portion sizes are usually a skimpy ¼ to ½ cup serving. Read the label – even on low-fat varieties – and stick with the recommended portion sizes.


Although still a great source of calcium, some yogurts can be closer to dessert than a healthy snack! Some premium whole-milk yogurts like Greek yogurt can offer a hefty dose of calories and saturated fat. Shop around and look for low-fat versions of these brands as they can be every bit as creamy. Remember that the fruit in fruit-flavoured yogurts is really mostly sugar (like jam) so if you are trying to limit calories opt for a low-fat plain and stir in fresh fruit and sweeten with cinnamon and/or a tablespoon of honey or maple syrup.

Sushi Rolls

While the variety of sushi rolls out there is mostly very healthy, it’s the fried tidbits (‘tempura’ on the menu), mayonnaise, cream cheese, and ‘special sauce’ that can really make the fat and calories add up. Keep a close eye on some of these hidden calories if sushi is a favourite.

Despite these precautions, I am not saying you should stop eating any of the foods mentioned. In truth, all foods can fit into a healthy diet if you know your limits. Just do a reality check and read the labels first whenever possible!

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