Healthy Foods to Reconsider
We’re all guilty of picking up a dangerfood every once in a while. They seem innocent enough on the outside, masquerading behind their whole wheat-touting labels or a crunchy bed of lettuce. But a closer look at the nutrition label reveals some dirty little secrets— shrouds of sugar, calorie-packed dressing, and more. Greatist.com put together a list of 19 “Healthy” Foods to Reconsider…and these are some of my favorites!
1. Trail Mix
Yes, it’s packed with protein and omega-3s, and makes for a portable, satisfying snack. But what lurks behind these nutty, prepackaged snacks are loads of excess sugar, oils, and preservatives. Even though the nuts in trail mix are filled with heart-healthy fats, that also means they’re high in calories. Add on the extra-salty varieties and sugar-packed dried fruits, and there’s a bit of a dilemma. Avoid prepackaged mixes with lots of fruit and opt for homemade batches with unsalted nuts and all-natural fruits.
This one’s another calorie trap, with each container packing up to 700 calories! While this garbanzo bean-based dip does offer a good dose of protein, heart-healthy fats, and fiber, working it into a healthy diet is all about portion control. Stick to one serving (2 tablespoons) to keep the calorie count under 80 calories. Also, stick to lower-calorie and carb dippers like fresh or lightly steamed veggies like carrots, celery, snap peas, or broccoli instead of pita chips or pretzels.
Yes, this crunchy, nutty breakfast treat may look like a healthy way to start the day. Unfortunately, commercial varieties roasted with sweeteners and dried fruit may be higher in sugar and calories than their fiber-filled oats are worth. When strolling down the granola aisle, avoid any varieties with sugary ingredients— fructose, corn syrup, cornstarch, chocolate— high on the nutrition label, and beware of terms like “glazed” or “frosted.”
It’s a healthier dinner than fried chicken, we’ll give you that. But despite the fresh veggies and omega-3-filled fish, sushi can be a silent killer when it comes to calorie counts, often packed with too much rice (sometimes a full cup per roll!), fried fillings, and heavy sauces. Instead, opt for sashimi (slices of fish without the rice), or a brown rice roll with only fresh fish (hold the sauce). Another word to the wise: Stay away from special Americanized rolls (like the popular Philadelphia roll) that are often filled with extra calories from cream cheese or (yes) even bacon.
5. Frozen Yogurt
It might be a healthier alternative to ice cream, but frozen yogurt doesn’t always make it all the way to the healthy side of the healthy-food battle. While brands with live, active yogurt cultures (a.k.a. probiotics) may offer some health benefits, they’re also often packed with sugar and preservatives.
6. Dried Fruit
While dried fruit does have some redeeming qualities, varieties with added chemicals and sugar make it easy to question these healthy claims. To pick a healthier version, look for “no sugar added” or brands that use alternative sweeteners like all-natural fruit juice. Also beware of serving sizes: Dried fruit is considered an energy dense food— high in calories, and relatively low in nutritional value.
7. Peanut Butter
Just one two-tablespoon serving of this favorite nutty spread packs around 190 calories. By themselves, peanuts are pretty innocent. Once they’re processed and turned into butter? Then we’re entering dangerous territory. The nuts are roasted, shelled, and ground, at which point they’re typically mixed with other ingredients like salt, hydrogenated vegetable oil, dextrose, corn syrup, and honey. These added ingredients help to extend shelf life and make life a little sweeter, but they can also mean the addition of trans fats— even if the label says “zero trans fat“— which can raise “bad” (LDL) cholesterol.
8. Granola Bars
Although convenient, these oat, grain, and nut-packed bars are not always as healthy as they may seem. Popular brands like Quaker Oats and Nature Valley can contain as many as 25 ingredients, 12 grams of sugar, and sugar-filled ingredients like chocolate and peanut butter. In fact, these bars can actually be almost as bad as eating a real candy bar in terms of sugar and calories! Plus, many brands contain high fructose corn syrup (linked to weight gain and insulin resistance) [ ]; hydrogenated oils (which can raise cholesterol levels) [ ]; and monosodium glutamate or MSG (linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes) [ ].
9. Caesar Salad
Just because it’s on a bed of lettuce doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Caesar salad may seem like a healthy menu option, but its calories-laden dressing, blanket of cheese, and refined grains make it a not-so-smart choice. In moderation, they’re all fine. But take a closer look, and we have a different story. The classic Caesar dressing is made from egg yolks, which are high in calories and cholesterol, and may also carry Salmonella. Parmesan cheese may be a good source of calcium and protein in moderation, but when it’s piled sky high, those benefits are outweighed. And the croutons? Just added carbs and calories.
Ok, ok, so yogurt is mostly healthy. Got a hankering for some low fat plain Greek yogurt with fresh berries and a drizzle of honey? Go for it! It’s when we head toward the coffee-flavored yogurt with chocolate cookie crumbs for breakfast that the trouble starts. Flavors with lots of added sugar (basically any flavored concoction) can rack up the calorie and carb count far beyond that of natural yogurt. If ingredients like corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, maltose, or any other “syrup” or “sugar” appear on the label, it’s probably best to stay away.
11. Canned Produce
Let’s say it together, folks: Fresh is always better! Often saturated with excess sodium or sugar, canned produce is rarely a smarter choice.
12. Fruit Juice
Just because it came from fruit doesn’t mean it has the same benefits. One cup— take apple, for example— can pack more than 100 calories. But some nutritionists believe the real problem starts when people think about juice (or any liquid) as calorie-free— which is clearly not true. But our biggest problem with juice is all about the sugar. Yeah, fruit naturally has a good deal of it, but squeezing it (literally) into juice form just makes that sugar even easier to choke down. Plus, juicing even removes the super-healthyfiber that real fruit provides. Goodbye, redeeming qualities!
13. Veggie Burgers
When not so keen on meat (or just looking for a break), veggie burgers might be a good alternative. But the excess sodium, processed ingredients, and even the possibility of toxins (!) easily push veggie burgers into the danger zone. Patties made out of straight veggies might be okay, but those based on processed soy (which some studies suggest lacks the benefits of natural soy) aren’t as smart of a choice. And with the sodium levels in some brands (over 400 mg per patty!), they may even be a gateway to serious health issues like high blood pressure and kidney disease.
14. Breakfast Cereal
Say it with me, people: Excess sugar is bad! Sensing a theme, here? In addition to having no nutritional benefits of its own, added sugar can increase the risk of tooth decay, weight gain, and heart disease. Plus, sticking to one serving is nearly impossible. (One serving of Frosted Mini Wheats, for example, contains only five pieces for 175 calories!) Opt for a whole grain, fiber-filled, low-sugar variety, though, and the benefits may start to outweigh the downsides.
Even more at the Greatist!
1. Planks for crunches. Okay okay, have we said this enough? Crunches may not be the secretto six-pack abs. Give planks a try instead to work that whole core. Extra points for holding it for a minute straight!
2. Interval workout for relaxed run. Congrats on that 20-mile marathon. Now try a 20-minuteinterval run that involves lots of sprinting with some walking recovery. It may kick up the heat even more.
3. Incline for flat treadmill. In a perfect, outdoor world, flat roads rarely exist. (Sorry, Midwestern readers!) Add some hills to that treadmill run by cranking up the incline, and feel the muscle-building burn!
4. Zumba for elliptical. Trash that Cosmo-reading elliptical routine and surprise the body with a fun, calorie-burning cardio session. Sure beats staying stuck to a machine.
6. Warming up for rushing right to it. We know that barbell looks tempting. But before hitting the weight rack, do an active warm-up to loosen up limbs and get the most out of the workout.
7. Standing for sitting at a desk. How often does someone complain about having to sit in a cubicle all day? We have a simple solution (no college degree required)… stand. Use a pile of books to prop up the computer, or purchase one of these.
8. Exercise ball for office chair. Okay, we get it. Some people really don’t want to stand at their cubicle. So stay seated, but on a Swiss ball! It can help with balance and that six-pack. Fitness at the fingertips!
9. Gym for napping. Falling asleep at the wheel? Pull over. Tired in front of the TV? Hit the gym. It provides a big boost of energy and burns calories.
11. Pull-ups for bicep curls. Isolating muscles is so 2011. Pull-ups are not only impressive (I can do two, thankyouverymuch) but they work way more than one muscle. Talk about multi-tasking.
12. Squats for leg press. Forget staying seated to work out the legs. Amp up the training sesh and do some squats to strengthen all theleg muscles, with some gluteus maximus work in there, too!
14. Foam rolling for static stretching. Need to get the knots out? Try using a foam roller instead of sitting and stretching to the toes. It’s almost like a personal massage.
15. Exergames for Mario Kart. Mario may be booking it through the race course, but holding the remote control does next to nothing for our own heart rate. Try out Wii Fit or Just Dance— they’re designed to provide light to moderate exercise.
16. Rowing for biking. How often can we row, row, row a boat indoors? Take advantage of the rowing machine instead of the good ’ol bike; it’s a super upper and lower body exercise.
17. Stairs for escalator. We’ve heard the tip a million times, so here it is for the millionth plus one. If the option’s available, go the old-fashion route and climb the stairs to burn some extra calories.
18. Fun workout for dreaded one. Loathe the elliptical? Try the stair-master. Hate the bench press? Do push-ups instead. We can still challenge ourselves without doing exercises we hate.
19. Active date for dinner and a movie. Save a night at that French restaurant for retirement and go on a fun, active winter date with a special someone. Sledding can be just as intimate as duck confit, and it sneaks in a hill-climbing workout, too.
20. Parking farther away for getting a spot up close. There’s no need to circle the parking lot five times looking for the perfect spot. Just park further away and walk the extra 100 feet to Target. (Doesn’t count as a trip to the gym, though!)
21. Walking further for running shorter. New to running? It’s okay. Even if a mile is all that’s possible, keep walking for a good cardio workout. Hold some light weights to up the intensity even more!
22. Working out with a pal for exercising by yourself. Grab that special someone or just a friend and hit the gym; working out with others may strengthen trust. Plus he or she could help motivate us through that final set of push-ups!
23. Hands-free running for holding handles. Hands off! On the treadmill, don’t rely on the handlebars. They take some of the stress off the body and make that workout less challenging.
25. Homemade post-workout snack for a protein bar. Bring a PB&J or another post-workout snack to the gym rather than buying a protein bar. We need some after-exercise fuel, but don’t get it in the form of excess sugar!
Vanilla Spice French Toast with Apple
- 1 egg plus 2 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Dash each of cinnamon and nutmeg
- 2 pieces whole-grain bread
- 1/2 medium apple, sliced
Banana Pecan Waffles
- 2 frozen low-fat whole-grain waffles
- 1/2 banana, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons pecans, chopped
Blueberry & Toasted Almond Muesli
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup skim milk or plain soy milk
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
Mix rolled oats and milk. Let sit for 15 minutes, or cover and put in refrigerator overnight. Top with blueberries and almonds.
Santa Fe Egg Scramble
- 1 egg plus 2 egg whites
- 2 tablespoons canned green chilies, dried
- 2 tablespoons cheddar cheese
- 1 whole wheat tortilla, heated
- 1/2 grapefruit
Natural oils are well-known for it’s moisturizing properties whether it be skin or hair. Paired with rosemary, known to enhance the senses and boost memory in aromatherapy, you can make this luxurious hair treatment right out of your own kitchen!
- 1 bunch of rosemary leaves (best fresh!)
- 1/2 cup soybean oil
- Plastic bag
- Warm towel
- Prepare the rosemary. Take the rosemary sprigs and remove the leaves. Set the leaves aside and toss out the stems.
- Warm the oil and rosemary leaves in a double boiler. Fill a saucepan one quarter full with water and place on medium heat. Place a large bowl on top of the saucepan without letting the water touch the bottom of the bowl.
- Strain. Pour out the oil mixture into another bowl through a strainer and separate the leaves.
- Apply the oil to your hair. First place a towel on your shoulders to avoid getting the oil on your clothes. With your hands, apply the oil all over your hair thoroughly, working the mixture evenly to the end of the strands. Wrap your hair in plastic wrap around your head or use a plastic bag to cover your hair. Cover with a towel and leave it in for 10-15 minutes.
- Wash out thoroughly with shampoo. And when I say thoroughly, I mean thoroughly. If you fail to wash your hair out properly your hair will remain oily. So be sure to wash it out well so your hair has a soft, shiny sheen.
Store excess in a microwaveable container and reheat for another treatment.
Some of these things I knew already, and some were a surprise. Good information to know, though!
1) Green Tea:
Boost your metabolism by drinking green tea. Research has shown that green tea can aid weight loss by helping to burn an estimated extra 78 calories per day.
2) 7 p.m. Cutoff:
Some people have lost weight by not eating anything after 7 p.m., which is usually the prime time when people tend to overeat. To satisfy hunger pangs, try chewing gum.
Cinnamon has a reputation for specifically targeting extra weight in the stomach region. When the spice is combined with healthy eating habits – cinnamon can assist with insulin resistance to encourage weight loss.
4) Morning Weight Loss Drink:
Boil one cup of water with lemon juice and honey to create a weight loss boost that should be consumed every morning.
5) Hula Hoop:
Once you get the hang of the motion, include 30 minutes to one hour of hula hooping per day to watch the extra pounds melt away from your waistline.
6) Apple Cider Vinegar:
Studies have shown that apple cider vinegar increases metabolism, which helps to burn more calories while the body is at rest. Mix two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to 16 ounces of water, and sip throughout the day.
7) Fruit Smoothies:
Encourage weight loss by starting the day off with a fruit smoothie, which delivers a blend of essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, and fatty acids to the body. The combination of ingredients offers a tasty remedy that helps prevent food cravings. A couple of additions to consider include orange juice, banana, strawberries, rice milk, concentrated cherry juice, flaxseed oil, aloe juice, and soy milk.
8) Grilled Food:
Your meals will contain less fat and more of a healthy boost when you grill meats instead of fry or sauté.
9) Non-Stick Cooking Spray:
Swap butter and oil with non-stick cooking spray when you need to coat your pans before cooking. Some people will save up to 27 grams of fat and 230 calories.
10) Steam Your Vegetables:
Save a great deal of calories by steaming your vegetables instead of frying or cooking in melted butter.
11) Egg Whites:
Cut down the fat content in your recipes by using two egg whites instead of one whole egg. Eliminating egg yolks from your meals will also lower your cholesterol intake.
12) Kitchen Scissors:
When cutting fat away from your chicken and meat, use kitchen scissors, which take some of the strain from using a knife to cut away excess fat.
13) Frozen Yogurt:
If you’re a fan of ice cream, find lower-fat substitutes, such as frozen yogurt and sherbet, to lessen the damage.
Applesauce makes a healthier substitute for oil, margarine, and butter when preparing baked goods, such as cookies, cakes, and muffins. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of vegetable oil, use ½ cup of applesauce and ½ cup of oil.
15) Frozen Fruit:
Packed with vitamins and minerals, freeze cubed fruit (like oranges, cantaloupe, pineapple, peaches, grapes, and strawberries) for an after-dinner treat.
16) Low-Fat Milk:
The next time you add milk to your cereal, remember that whole milk contains 8 grams of fat per cup, while skim milk has zero. You will also get the same amount of calcium and vitamin D if you switch to low-fat milk. Calcium additionally helps break down fat.
17) Soy Products:
Soy actually contains components (such as lecithin) that keep fat from sticking around longer than it has to. Soybeans also increase the body’s ability to eliminate fat by breaking down deposits in the body.
Many food cravings develop with blood sugar levels take a dive. However, fiber-packed oatmeal lingers in your stomach for hours, which helps curb cravings. Just make sure you don’t pile up on the sugary flavored oatmeal, which does more harm than good.
Stay full by snacking on nuts, which treats hunger pangs without packing on an extreme number of calories. Avoid salted nuts, which raises your blood pressure and can lead to water retention. A decent serving is 24 almonds per day.
20) Weight Loss Journal:
Writing down what you eat in a ‘food diary’ can help you assess how many calories you consume throughout a day, week, and month. Seeing what you eat can help you make healthier choices that lessen your overall calorie intake. Some people also record how much exercise they get on a daily basis. The weight loss journal is also a good place to track progress by entering daily or weekly weigh-ins.
21) “Negative”-Calorie Foods:
There is a theory that if you stock up on ‘negative’ calorie foods (items that burn more calories than they contain) – you can lose weight faster. At the very least, replacing your guilty edibles with negative calorie snacks can help you achieve your weight loss goals faster. Examples include celery, oranges, strawberries, grapefruit, apricots, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon, tangerines, carrots, apples, and hot chili peppers.
22) Drink Water:
Water is a natural remedy that suppresses your appetite, flushes away toxins, removes excess sodium, and helps increase your metabolic rate.
23) Citrus Fruits:
The vitamin C found in citrus fruits offers a fat-burning component that helps eliminate excess pounds from your system quicker. A couple of ways to increase your intake of citrus fruits is to eat a grapefruit for breakfast, drink orange juice with lunch, or add lemon to your water at dinnertime.
The fiber content in berries can help with weight loss. However, don’t think that you can satisfy your intake with jelly, as many options have nearly no fiber and are loaded with added sugar.
Helping to tone your body and lose weight, beans make an effectively low-calorie side dish that is filled with protein and fiber. One of the best bean choices is cannellini, which slows down your digestion and makes your body work harder to process meals. The result is burning more calories. Other decent options include pinto and black beans.
26) Choose Whole Grains:
Not all carbohydrates are bad for you and when you choose the ‘right’ kind of carbs for your diet – you can aid weight loss. Select food products that state “whole grain” or “100 % whole wheat” to avoid becoming too hungry throughout the day and night.
27) Cayenne Powder:
Sweat your way to weight loss by consuming spicy foods, which sets your body in motion to burn calories hours after eating. Cayenne pepper is considered one of the best fat-burning spices to add to your dishes.
Expanding blood vessels and increasing body heat and metabolism, ginger works towards burning fat. Eaten fresh, ground, pickled or candied, ginger also helps detoxify the body and stimulate circulation.
29) Green Leafy Vegetables:
Fight a bulging waist by eating green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli, which offers a lot of fiber and very few calories. Starting your meal with a salad will help you eat smaller portions. The best greens to add to a salad are romaine, arugula, and spinach.
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