14 Unhealthy "Health" Foods

by: Lindsay Hutton
Just because a food is marketed as healthy doesn't always mean it is. From astronomical portion sizes to sugar-laden beverages, this list of 14 deceiving foods will have you re-thinking your choices the next time you're perusing the grocery aisle or reaching for a snack.
Close up of three smoothies
What better way to get your recommended fruit serving than in tasty smoothie form, right?

Sadly, while many start off healthy, most pre-made smoothies have tons of added sugar (think ice cream and sherbet) and can pack as many calories as a milkshake. Factor in their large serving sizes, and you can end up drinking a huge chunk of your daily calories in one sitting.

Instead, forgo the popular smoothie chains and try making your own. This mango and lime smoothie is super easy to make, and you can control how much goes into the blender.

Plate of sushi
What could possibly be unhealthy about a sushi roll?

While some rolls are actually healthy, plenty others contain tasty but caloric mayonnaise-based sauces, cream cheese, crunchy (read: fried) cucumbers or eel, and "special sauces" that are often cream-based. Add those up and your seemingly harmless dragon roll suddenly packs up to 500 calories or more.

Luckily, it's easy to keep sushi on the healthier side. Forego creamy sauces and "crunchy" toppings, and stick with the basics. You'll still get great taste, just fewer calories. While you're at it, try your hand at making your own California sushi roll.

Close up of bran muffins
Bran Muffins
It isn't the ingredients in bran muffins that make them bad; it's the portion sizes. Most bran muffins sold in stores or at drive thrus are massive, and can contain more than 400 calories. (For a little perspective, a Boston cream donut has around 300 calories.)

Skip the store-bought kind and try making your own. Get the recipe.

Turkey burger and fries on white background
Turkey and Veggie Burgers
Think by ordering a turkey burger instead of beef that you've saving on calories? Nope. Depending on the type of ground turkey and the toppings, many turkey burgers pack just as many calories as their beefy counterparts, with some restaurant servings clocking in at over 1,000 calories (not including fries!). And with all the added ingredients (take a look at those labels!) and toppings (think cheese and mayo), veggie burgers can be just as bad.

If you are seriously craving a burger, it helps to at least be informed about the nutritional content, so you aren't duped into believing that your gluttonous meal is good for you.

Slode up of berries and cream
"Fruit on the Bottom" Yogurt
Actually, these should be labeled "sugar-laden jam on the bottom" yogurt, since most contain the same amount of sugar as a can of soda. Scary, huh?

Try mixing fresh fruit into plain yogurt. You'll still get the creamy goodness, only with a lot less sugar.

Dried Fruit Mix on White Background
Dried Fruit
But it's fruit! How can fruit be unhealthy?

Most prepackaged fruit has so much added sugar that it makes more sense to call it candy. Plus, dried fruit has much less volume than fresh fruit, making it easier to eat more than your fair share without feeling full. That might not sound bad — until you check out the calorie content. One serving isn't bad. A whole bag? Yikes.

Simple solution? Stick to the fresh stuff.

Bowl of granola with spoon
Sure the calorie count might not seem so bad, making you think granola is a healthy and easy-to-pack breakfast or snack. But take a closer look — the average serving size for granola is usually ¼ or ½ cup. Pretty tiny, if you ask us!

When it's put in that perspective, granola is actually packed with sugar, calories, and fat. We're not saying you can't eat it, but take care to measure the correct portion.

You can easily make homemade granola. Get the recipe here.

Butter on knife
Margarine contains trans fat, a lipid that has been linked to heart disease and other scary health conditions.

You know what doesn't have trans fat? Plain old butter. Try buying the whipped version — it has air incorporated in, making it less calorically dense than the regular stick kind (and use it sparingly).

Prepared cobb salad on white background
Prepared Salads
Of course lettuce and vegetables are healthy. But when you start piling on cheese, croutons, and creamy dressings, your seemingly healthy lunch is suddenly about as unhealthy as a fast food meal. And those portion sizes? They're usually enough for at least two meals.

Take the extra time to make your own salad. Try throwing a hardboiled egg on it — the extra protein will help you stay fuller longer.

Rice Cakes on checkered background
Rice Cakes
Ever wonder how rice cakes can taste so light and airy? It's because they have about the same nutritional value as, well, air.

Besides calories and sodium, you won't find many health benefits to eating this "healthy" snack.

If you love rice cakes too much to give them up, try pairing them with some fruit or veggies to get the extra dose of vitamins that your won't find in these crunchy snacks. A serving of peanut butter smeared on top can also provide a little protein.

Close up of peanut butter on knife with bread and jam in background
Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter
Speaking of peanut butter — think that by buying the reduced-fat kind that you're making a healthy choice? Think again.

Reduced-fat has the same amount of calories as regular peanut butter, and even more sugar. And while you might think that less fat is still better, consider this — regular peanut butter has monounsaturated ("good") fat, which will help keep you full and keep your portions in check. So, stick with the real stuff. All natural is best, or look for a store that allows you to grind your own.

Solitary cany bar with bite mark taken out of it
Energy Bars
These "pre-workout snacks" usually contain as much, if not more, calories than a candy bar, are loaded with high fructose corn syrup, added sugars, and saturated fats. The name makes sense then — you'll need just about all your energy to burn one of these off!

Believe us — nothing you find in prepackaged bar form will give you the incredible energy boost it promises. Just stick with wholesome, real food.

Woman reaching for sports drink
Sports Drinks
As with energy bars, sports drinks are usually chock-full of added sugars and electrolytes, and meant to replace fluids that are lost during vigorous exercise (sorry — channel-surfing doesn't count). Consuming them as an everyday beverage means you're just loading your body with unnecessary sugar.

So what should you drink? Water. Plain-old, sugar-free, refreshing water.

Fat free spelled out in spaghetti
"Fat-Free" Foods
Repeat after me — fat-free does not mean calorie-free.

Prepackaged processed foods often contain a host of unhealthy ingredients to make up for being fat free, like sugars, artificial sweeteners, and chemicals. Make sure to check the label to make sure all the ingredients are healthy (and pronounceable).

Want to know a truly healthy fat-free food? Fruits and vegetables. Try reaching for those next time you need a snack fix.