The yearly churn of new foods and their marketing campaigns often come with promises of great taste and immense health benefits.
But beware, not all foods pitched to you as health-wise deliver on that promise. In fact, you could be doing more harm than good.
Here are some food experts found are portrayed as good for you, but really aren't:
Kim Larson, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, said veggie chips are merely a marketing gimmick. The chips, often made of sweet potatoes, beets and taro root, are fried just like potato chips. She said they lack nutrients because they're processed. Plus, they're high in salt, fat and calories.
Granola enjoyed years atop the food kingdom as the energy packed mixture of nuts, seeds, fruits and grains. What could be wrong with that? Apparently, a lot. Larson said honey, sugar and oils often are added to granola, pushing the stuff to 500 calories a cup. Dang. "Granola can end up being an indulgent treat rather than a whole grain breakfast option," Larson said. "Better to choose low-sugar, whole grain cereals or oatmeal."
Sorry, but Larson said the reason smoothies are popular are because they taste good. Smoothies, she said, often are packed with fruits and little vegetables, plus fruit juice and other additions such as sherbet ice cream. They give a blast of energy, but let you down because they don't keep you full long. Larson said you're better off eating real food.
Vandana Sheth, a registered dietitian nutrionist, said dried fruits, while good sources of fiber and minerals, often have additives and extra sugars to make them taste better. Stay away from dried cranberries, which need to be sweetened because they're so tart, and dried pineapples. Better options are dates, dried apples and raisins. Quick tip: Make sure to look at the label before buying dried fruits.
Salads can be corrupted by what you put on them. Dressings are the biggest culprits. Stay away from ranch, french dressing and thousand island. Croutons, cheese and nuts also can add calories. Instead, choose a vinaigrette and always get dressing on the side at restaurants, where they tend to overdress salads.
The disappearing candy dinosaur eggs in your kids' oatmeal aren't packed with protein. Nay, these individual packets often have up to 12 grams of sugar, roughly a third the amount in a can of Coke. Don't be mistaken, oatmeal is good for you. Sheth suggests making it the old fashioned way and topping it with berries, bananas or apples.
These too can be packed with sweeteners. Check the labels, said Marjorie Nolan Cohn, a registered dietician from Philadelphia. "Don't buy the highly sweetened crap," she added.
Take a close look at wheat bread labels, recommended Cohn. Often times it's just white bread with added fiber.
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