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10 foods that are masquerading as healthy

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Grocery storeWe all know that Cheetos aren't good for you and Snapple is not a superfood. But what about the many foods that we think are "healthy" or "all-natural" choices—but just aren't? We're talking your everyday snacks, like fruit-bottom yogurt and popcorn.

It's so easy to be misled in the grocery store, warn health evangelist Frank Lipman, MD, and Eleven Eleven health coach, Jenny Sansouci. "Terms like 'natural' and 'healthy' aren't regulated—they're marketing copy," the pair explains. "So they can refer to an item that's full of sugar, chemicals, and preservatives." Eek!

Here are 10 red-flag foods that might be hiding in your kitchen right now. —Jennifer Kass and Melisse Gelula

Photo: www.drphoenyx.com

 
Agave1. Agave

Most agave is highly processed, says Dr. Lipman. "As a result, the bottled version doesn't remotely resemble the agave plant," he continues. Agave is also high in fructose. "High fructose sweeteners of any kind can cause mineral depletion, liver inflammation, insulin resistance, and obesity," says Lipman. Instead, try coconut sugar, which is less processed and contains a scant 9 percent fructose.

Photo: www.thinkgarnish.com

 
Gluten free desserts2. Gluten-free sweets

"Gluten free" doesn't necessarily mean "healthy." Many gluten-free products are still high in refined sugar, and are often made with high-glycemic grains like corn, rice, and potato starch, Dr. Lipman cautions. Your best bet is to make your own gluten-free baked goods with high-nutrient flours, like almond or coconut, using natural sweeteners, such as raw honey or pure maple syrup.

Photo: www.lovefromtheoven.com

 
cereal3. Boxed cereals and granola

Cereal and granola are often just boxes of sugar disguised as health foods, says Dr. Lipman. Which means they can give you a sugar spike and crash, instead of keeping you properly nourished. "You're better off making your own muesli using gluten-free oats, nuts, seeds, and fresh berries," he says.

Photo: Telegraph.co.uk

 
Popcorn4. Popcorn (or non-organic corn)

The vast majority of corn in America is genetically modified, says Dr. Lipman. Plus, microwave popcorn bags are lined with chemicals, and the butter is totally artificial, he warns. Upgrade by using organic popcorn kernels. You can pop 'em on your stove with coconut oil and sea salt, or in an air popper.

Photo: Good-for-you popcorn made with organic corn and coconut oil, www.frugalfreebiesanddeals.com

 
Soy Milk5. Soy milk

Soy is one of the largest genetically modified crops. And while organic soy milk is a better choice, it's still "highly processed, a common allergen, and hard to digest for many people," says Dr. Lipman. Organic almond milk or unsweetened coconut milk are better options.

Photo: www.coronadentalnews.com

 
Vitamin Water6. Enhanced Water

Watch out! "Many of these are essentially sugar water, regardless of how many vitamins they pack in," says Dr. Lipman. Keep things simple: Plain or sparkling water with a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime is best.

Photo: www.fitday.com

 
Screen shot 2013-09-15 at 10.38.13 AM7. Low-fat crackers

"Most crackers on the market are high in refined oils, sugar, salt, and gluten," says Dr. Lipman. "The low-fat versions are even worse, because they have to add sugars and chemicals to make up for the taste of the fat." Read ingredient labels thoroughly, or use whole foods to make equally crunchy (but way-better-for-you) snacks, like kale chips.

Photo: www.heraldsun.com.au

 
Whole Wheat Bread8. Whole wheat bread

"In addition to being packed with gluten, whole wheat bread is often sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, just like white bread," says Dr. Lipman. "Take a look at the ingredient list on your supermarket bread, and you'll likely be surprised at how long it is!" If you want a bread sans processed sugar (and chemicals), try making your own—or go for Ezekiel.

Photo: www.easyfoodsmith.blogspot.in

 
Orange Juice9. Pasteurized fruit juices

The cartons and bottles of juice sold in the supermarket and served in restaurants contain tons of sugar. (We've spied up to 48 grams per 16 oz. in some!) Plus, pasteurization removes most of the beneficial nutrients, says Dr. Lipman. A better option? Go to a juice bar for a raw, cold-pressed option or make your own green juice or smoothie from scratch.

Photo: www.pomegranateandpatchouli.com

 
Fruit on Bottom Yogurt10. Fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt

Many fruit-added yogurts are full of sugar or corn syrup, meaning you can ingest 30 grams (that's a day's worth of sugar) even before your 9:00 a.m. meeting. While organic yogurt is definitely better in terms of dairy quality, it's important to choose an unsweetened version and add your own berries, advises Dr. Lipman. (Goat and sheep's milk yogurts are often easier for people to digest than cow's milk, he adds.) Sugar and dairy can also cause acne, studies show, as well as a host of other health issues.

Photo: www.backtoherroots.com

 

8 Comments | ADD YOURS

  1. September 13th, 2013 at 11:01 am

    This is exactly why people should urge Starbucks to have other non-dairy substitutes besides soy milk!

  2. September 15th, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    If you are not seriously gluten intolerant (meaning: you were diagnosed by the allergy and gluten intolerance by a doctor), gluten is not bad for us.

    Also, muesli…check the calories but I agree, better make your own. It is simple, much cheaper and you know exactly what you eat.

  3. September 17th, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    Completely agree with you on this list! It’s so easy for people to get confused between healthy and not-so-healthy products.
    Better educated they are, the better decisions they can make for themselves.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. December 20th, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    This includes drinks, processed food, and even gum or toothpaste.
    They are a good source of fiber, magnesium and potassium and
    an excellent source of iron, Vitamin C, Vitamin K. Some herbs can act
    in several ways on several levels.

  5. January 2nd, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Sugar and Sugar substitutes as well as any white flour products should be replaced always with RAW and Sprouted choices. Stevia is the only natural sugar substitute. If its made in a plant don’t eat it, if it comes from a plant eat generously. Fruits, veggies and natural RAW nuts are super foods that heal. http://www.danielplan.com

  6. January 16th, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    This is important. I’m always trying to pass on information like this and bang the drum for more awareness and hopefully a little more regulation so that labeling is actually helpful and not misleading.

  7. April 5th, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    As for #2, why is maple syrup better than agave!!?

  8. August 12th, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Stevia is not the inly alternative Too sweet and hard on the Palate
    Monk Fruit is healthier but very expensive

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