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9 health foods that have an ugly hidden secret

Your friendly, neighborhood juice bar

Fruit juices today are pretty trendy. From cold pressed to locally pressed, most juices pack a sugar punch akin to soda pop. While you are still getting the vitamins from the fruit itself, the juicing eliminates the pulp….which also eliminates the fiber. Soda still isn’t the better choice, but keep sugar content in mind the next time you are being “health conscious” about your beverage.

Jelly’s better half

Nuts are a go-to for protein and energy but the danger lies in all the other yucky things added in (think fillers, preservatives and extra sugar). To hack this health snack, read your labels. On a jar of almond butter, there shouldn’t be much else besides almonds and salt. If you are reading a laundry list of ingredients, opt out and skip the added fillers that only get in your way to nut butter bliss. But be warned: whether raw or in “buttered” form, nuts are naturally high in calories, so whatch your serving size.

The honest reason we all love yogurt

Oats, dried fruit, and nuts….so what’s the downside to granola? Truth be told, prepackaged granolas are usually extremely high in sugar and oil, despite a ‘healthy’ ingredient list. It’s a quick way to add tons of calories in very tiny way— but don’t ditch your love for topping yogurt quite yet. Test out granola’s cousin, muesli. This option uses fruit as a sweetener, and is excellent stirred into yogurt.

Nature’s candy

My mom always called fruit “nature’s candy”. It’s naturally sweet, and even more so when dried. But sweet is sweet, whether it’s been added or comes naturally…and too much sugar is never good. Dried fruit concentrates that natural sugar into one sweet treat that’s far too easy to eat too much of. Throwing back 12 or 15 dried apricots is doable, but when is the last time you sat down and ate that many fresh apricots? Don’t cut it completely out of your diet, but just be mindful. Look for dried fruit with no added sugar, and do yourself a favor by pre-portioning out amounts to avoid a sugar overload.

Workout candy bars

Looks like a protein bar, might as well be a candy bar. If you don’t check out the ingredients, you may be eating something quite high in sugar as a snack after your morning run. Watch for a low ingredient list that uses whey (not soy), and has about 20 grams of protein.

Canned comfort food

Canned soups are a great low calorie dinner that can be pretty filling…but watch for sodium levels in this easy meal. Processed varieties almost always pack in tons of sodium….even as much as 1,300 grams. Keep an eye out for “less sodium” varieties, or try whipping up a homemade version of your favorite soups. This way, you’ll control the salt (and other ingredients) and still get to warm up with a bowl.

Grandma’s secret recipe

Dunkin Donuts has finally gotten a hold of Grandma’s bran muffin recipe, to your breakfast relief. But if you are trying to be healthy, go for the donut. Surprised? Okay, donuts aren’t a health food either, but portion size is the real culprit with bran muffins. Most are made with oil and butter, tipping the scales at a few hundred calories per muffin in addition to all that fat. Yikes. If the bakery is calling your name, split the muffin in half and eat it the next day. Pop part II in the microwave or toaster to bring it back to its ‘warm out of the oven’ state, and enjoy.

That’s a wrap

If you want to cut calories, wrap your sandwich in lettuce, not a wrap. Even the spinach wraps these days have an enormous surface area and can really hide calories well. Adding in a wrap can add in almost 300 calories to what could be a low calorie meal.

(Almost) waters

Smart waters, flavored waters, work out beverages are all putting extra things in water that really don’t belong. Granted, if you are doing some serious cardio (like training for a race), then your body is going to need those electrolytes. Just be mindful that artificial sweeteners are probably on the ingredient list. If you are looking for something more fruity than water to drink during the day, DIY. Some call for sugar, but feel free to adjust sweetness to taste. Toss in berries, mint, other fruits and you are good to go (after you Instagram how gorgeous your water looks, of course).

In essence, read your food labels. Items that are packaged with “real fruit!” and “multigrain” aren’t necessarily good for you. Learning how to correctly read a food label and find out exactly what you are eating can help avoid some serious eating pitfalls. Keep portion control in mind, be aware of what you are eating…and read your labels.

Emily is a graduate of Brigham Young University and loving her adventures in Salt Lake City, as well as those abroad. Read more about her travels, tastings, and musings at ercummings.blogspot.com

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