Sure, you want to eat better, and maybe that’s your new year’s resolution. But be very, very careful when shopping, as labels like “natural” and “low fat” don’t always mean something is good for you. While that’s become (somewhat) common sense, it seems like crappy foods are finding more and more ways to sneak into our grocery carts. Fitbie came up with a list of 16 foods that are significantly worse for you than they sound at first glance, and a few of them may really surprise you!
Before you swap sugar for agave syrup or believe the “corn sugar” commercials, do your research. Fitbie says:
It was sweet to be a “natural” sugar this year. Natural sweeteners now rank second on the list of most-looked-for items on the ingredient label, after the type of fat/oil. But “to the body, sugar is sugar, whether it’s in the form of honey, agave nectar, evaporated cane juice, fruit juice concentrate, molasses, or whatever,” says Robert Davis, PhD, author ofCoffee Is Good for You: From Vitamin C and Organic Foods to Low-Carb and Detox Diets, the Truth about Diet and Nutrition Claims. Though these alternatives may sound healthier than regular sugar, there’s scant evidence that our gut processes them any differently.
They also go on to explain that store-bought honey isn’t even really technically honey! (UPDATE: One of our commenters pointed out below that NPR debunked the honey-isn’t-honey rumor. Whew!) Yet another reason to frequent your local farmer’s markets instead of Shop Rite!
Then there’s yogurt. As Fitbie points out, just because it’s “Greek yogurt” (or fat-free yogurt!) doesn’t mean it’s actually good for you:
While plain, low-fat Greek yogurt is a nutritional powerhouse, some of the flavored options pack more sugar per ounce than soda (about 39 g per 12-ounce can) and ice cream (about 24 g for 4 ounces). Ouch. The worst offenders (for a 5.3 ounce portion): Fage Total 2% With Honey at 29 g, Cabot 2% Strawberry at 24 g, Dannon 0% Honey and Chobani Blueberry Nonfat, each with 20 g.
This is a really important one to watch. My dad is diabetic, and he and I have had this discussion about yogurts before. Even if you aren’t super sensitive to sugars it’s a good reminder to always check the label. Incidentally, plain Greek yogurt makes an awesome replacement for sour cream. Just don’t drop the flavored kind in your chili.
As I said above, most of the Fitbie tips are common knowledge. But it’s easy to get suckered by a label, especially if you’re rushed or hungry. Whether you use an app like Fooducate or just pay close attention to the packaging, it’s more than worthwhile to take the extra time and know what you’re about to eat!