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HEALTH FOOD IMPOSTORS

Its been nearly three years since I've had soda, and I don't miss it one bit! Not only am I healthier, but my (natural) pearly whites are cavity-free, too! I found this article in Prevention Magazine and thought it would be helpful for your next grocery shopping trip:

Health Food Impostors
Don't be fooled! These 11 foods may seem healthy, but we found smarter swaps
By Nicole Ferring, MS, RD

See Through the "Health Halo"

Even if you haven't bought full-fat mayo or sugary soda since blue eye shadow was in style (the first time), you may be getting duped into less-than-stellar food choices at the supermarket.

The culprit? The "health halo." "From a distance, some foods seem like healthful choices because of the way they’re packaged or labeled," says Janel Ovrut, MS, RD, a Boston-based dietitian. "But just because a product’s marketing gives it an aura of health doesn’t necessarily mean it's good for you." Here, 11 notorious health food impostors, plus smarter swaps that up the nutritional ante and still give you the flavor you crave.



1. Baked Potato Chips

Yes, they're lower in fat. But they're still high in calories and low in nutrients, with little fiber to fill you up.

Smarter Sub: Popcorn
You'll get the salt and crunch of chips plus fiber, and around 65% fewer calories per cup. Look for oil-free microwave popcorn or brands that are air-popped or popped in healthful oils such as olive or canola.

Health Bonus: Heart-healthy whole grains
Adults who eat popcorn take in as much as 2 1/2 times more whole grains than people who do not, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Try: Good Health HalfNaked pre-popped popcorn, made with olive oil
One serving (4 cups) has 120 calories, 0 g sat fat, 4 g fiber.


2. Gummy Fruit Snacks

Although these products may contain some juice, they’re usually nothing more than candy infused with vitamins. They also contain high fructose corn syrup, which is linked with obesity, and heart-unhealthy partially hydrogenated oils.

Smarter Sub: Fresh or dried fruit
Both are packed with filling fiber, which you’ll miss if you opt for gummy snacks.

Health Bonus: Cancer-fighting antioxidants
Real fruit is loaded with immune-boosting nutrients that fruit-flavored snacks could never mimic. A recent Greek study found that women who ate the most fruits and veggies were the least likely to develop any type of cancer.

Try: Peeled Snacks Fruit Picks dried fruit(peeledsnacks.com)
One serving (one bag) of Go-Mango-Man-Go has 120 calories, 0 g sat fat, 2 g fiber.


3. Light Ice Cream

Light ice cream can have fewer calories than regular, but there’s no guarantee. Take Häagen-Dazs Dulce de Leche light ice cream: With 220 calories per 1/2 cup serving, it’s still higher in calories than the average full-fat ice cream, which has around 140 calories per serving. What’s more, some light icecreams can lack the rich taste you crave, so you’re less satisfied and may be inclined to eat more than one serving.

Smarter Sub: Dairy-free ice cream
Soy and coconut milk ice creams may save you a few calories, and they have a creamy, satisfying texture.

Health Bonus: Digestion-friendly fiber
Some dairy-free ice creams are made with chicory root, a natural source of inulin, a prebiotic fiber that can increase healthy bacteria in the gut and help the body absorb calcium and iron.

Try: Turtle Mountain Purely Decadent
One serving (1/2 cup) of vanilla has 150 calories, 7 g sat fat, and 6 g fiber. It's made with coconut milk, but studies show that the saturated fat in coconut may not raise cholesterol like the saturated fat in butter and meat.


4. Diet Soda

In a 2008 study, researchers linked drinking just onediet soda a day with metabolic syndrome—the collection of symptoms including belly fat that puts you at high risk of heart disease. Researchers aren't sure if it's an ingredient in diet soda or the drinkers'eating habits that caused the association.

Smarter Sub: Flavored seltzer water
It has zero calories and is free of artificial sweeteners but provides fizz and flavor. Beware of clear sparkling beverages that look like seltzer yet contain artificial sweeteners—they're no better than diet soda. Or try a sparkling juice; we recommend watering it down with seltzer to stretch your calories even further.

Health Bonus: Hydration (without chemicals)
Water is essential for nearly every body process.

Try: Your supermarket's low-cost seltzer brand
The taste is the same as the bigger name brands.

5. "Calorie-Free" Spray Margarine

Even though some spray margarines claim to be "calorie-free," labeling laws allow products with fewer than 5 calories per serving to claim to have zero calories. So, while one spritz may be inconsequential, the whole bottle could have as much as 900 calories.

Smarter Sub: Spray-it-yourself olive oil
In this case, a bit of real fat is more healthful and flavorful—and within a reasonable calorie range if you watch your portions. Investing in an olive oil mister ensures you don’t put on too much.

Health Bonus: Decreased inflammation
Olive oil lessens inflammation throughout the body, which helps your heart and lowers cancer risk, thanks to monounsaturated fatty acids.

Try: Misto olive oil sprayer
Find one at any kitchen store for around $10.


6. Nonfat Salad Dressing

Fat-free salad dressings are often packed with sugar—so your dressing may be loaded with calories. Ironically, a salad without fat is not living up to its potential. "You need a little fat to absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K and other nutrients," says Katherine Tallmadge, RD, spokesperson for the AmericanDietetic Association.

Smarter Sub: Oil-based salad dressings
You'll get good-for-you fats instead of the saturated fat found in some creamy dressings. Look for ingredients like olive oil, vinegar, and herbs.

Health Bonus: Vision protection
As many as five times more carotenoids—antioxidants that are essential for eyesight—are absorbed when salads are consumed with fat rather than with no fat.

Try: Newman's Own Olive Oil & Vinegar Dressing
Two tablespoons have 150 calories, 2.5 g sat fat, 0 g fiber.


7. Low-Fat Cookies

Do you remember the SnackWell's craze? Low-fat cookies are still popular, and many dieters think they can indulge guilt free. The problem is that most of these snacks are made with extra sugar, which means they often have just as many calories as the full-fat version, if not more.

Smarter Sub: Oatmeal cookies
These are a great way to indulge a cookie craving while also getting whole grains. Not all are created equal, though: Skip those made with high fructosecorn syrup, white flour, and butter in favor of varieties made with honey or cane juice, whole wheat flour, and oil.

Health Bonus: Lower cholesterol
The fiber found in oatmeal keeps your body from absorbing bad cholesterol.

Try: Kashi TLC Cookies
One cookie has 130 calories, 1.5 g sat fat, 4 g fiber.


8. 100-Calorie Snack Packs

You might want to skip these if you're trying to lose weight. A recent study showed that people may eat more food and calories if the portions are presented in small sizes and packages. With smaller serving sizes, study participants didn’t feel the need to regulate their intake, so they ate more than one portion before feeling satisfied.

Smarter Sub: A small serving of almonds
Their healthy monounsaturated fat, fiber, and protein will tide you over until your next meal.

Health Bonus: Stronger bones
Almonds are an excellent source of bone-building magnesium, as well as the immune-boosting antioxidant vitamin E.

Try: Blue Diamond Natural Oven Roasted Almonds
A 1 oz serving has 160 calories, 1 g sat fat, 3 g fiber.


9. Pretzels

The label may shout fat free and they may seem like a better alternative to chips, but they're made with refined white flour stripped of its vitamins and antioxidants. They're also dense so they pack a ton of carb calories for a small amount that isn't filling. Think of it this way: One 15-ounce bag contains the equivalent of 24 slices of white bread.

Smarter Sub: A whole grain snack chip with seeds
Crackers made with organic grains and sunflower, sesame, and other seeds provide a satisfying crunch along with a healthy dose of fiber and protein.

Health Bonus: A flat belly
Sunflower and sesame seeds make this a MUFA-rich meal if you're following the Flat Belly Diet.

Try: Dr. Kracker Seeded Spelt Snack Chips
A 1-ounce single-serving package contains 120 calories, 4 g fiber, and 5 g protein


10. Spinach Wraps

It looks green and good for you, but spinach powder is a scant ingredient. These wraps are typically made from refined white flour, and the green hue primarily comes from food colorings (Blue No. 1 and Yellow No. 5.). Not only does this not count as a veggie serving, you won't find the same immune-boosting vitamins A and C found in fresh spinach.

Smarter Sub: 100% whole grain breads
Choose whole grain wraps, pitas, English muffins, or bread. Look for 100% whole grain on the label.

Health Bonus: Reduced risk of disease
Research shows whole grains are linked to a reduced risk of nearly everything you're trying to prevent: heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure.

Try: Rudi's Organic Bakery Multigrain Bagels
One bagel contains 160 calories, 0 g sat fat, 3 g fiber, and 5 g protein.


11. Vitamin Water

Yes, it has vitamins, but at up to 200 calories per bottle, just one of these a day can cause a 20-pound weight gain in a year's time if the calories aren't burned off.

Smarter Sub: Calorie-free flavored waters
Instead of added sugar and artificial sweeteners, a few bottled brands contain just a hint of natural flavoring to entertain your tastebuds.

Health Bonus: Hydration
Water is the most important nutrient in your body, regulating temperature and filtering out waste.

Try: Ayala's, Hint, Metromint, or Wateroos
Each bottle is free of sugar, sweeteners, preservatives and--best of all--calories.


It would be nice if they recommended foods that are organic and GMO-free, but this article was written for those who are completely clueless when it comes to grocery shopping. Keep it healthy, kiddos!