Salad covered in ranch dressing

Is Your Healthy Food Really Healthy?

Spotting healthy foods should be easy—high-protein meals packed with vegetables and fruits. But, sometimes foods that appear to be good for you are full of unhealthy items. Here’s how to spot unhealthy foods disguised as healthy choices.

Give your salad a second look

While salads are a great way to get in your daily vegetables, it’s surprisingly simple to make them a vehicle for high-calorie, fatty foods. Fatty dressings like ranch can add up to 145 calories per serving. Try to stick with healthier options, such as vinaigrettes.

Salad toppings can turn your salad unhealthy as well. Shredded cheese, in particular, can carry 250 calories per cup and is packed with saturated fats. Bacon bits, likewise, raise the calorie count quickly. Even croutons can add unnecessary carbohydrates, when not used in moderation.

Avoid artificial sweeteners

While reducing the amount of sugar in your diet is always a positive move, artificial sweeteners that promise zero calories aren’t always the best option. Many of them, such as saccharin, sucralose and aspartame, lack the nutrition and my even increase your appetite. Natural options, such as honey provide valuable vitamins and minerals when used in moderation.

While the health effects of these artificial sweeteners are still being studied, preliminary evidence suggests that they may actually increase weight gain and may lead to more severe long-term health complications.

Be picky about popcorn

Popcorn can be a great low-calorie snack when you make it at home. While the air-popping method reigns supreme as the healthiest option for preparation, there are a number of oils you can use for popping that come with health benefits of their own. Canola oil contains omega-3 fatty acids that are important for heart health, and olive oil decreases your risk of high cholesterol.

There are fewer foods more iconic than movie theater popcorn, but think twice before indulging at the cinema. Movie theater popcorn is drenched in salt and artificial butter, which loads you with sodium and saturated fat. A medium-sized tub can contain over 1,000 calories—not to mention those free refills.

 

Looking for more healthy eating tips? Read more on diet and nutrition on the Health Minute blog.