Avoid the Top 10 Food Imposters
eDiets - The online diet, fitness, and healthy living resourceHave
you been duped by health food hype?
A recent chat about
the nutritional value of a certain vegetable got us here at eDiets thinking
that some foods are surprisingly less healthy than their reputations might have
you believe. As a result, we set out to debunk some nutritional myths.
You may be shocked and amazed at how slim the benefits are for
some of these traditional health foods. Some of our picks have lots of
nutrition, but the added ingredients counteract those positives. Others are
just devoid of the good stuff.
So if these 10 were on your
"most-hated" list, you can stop feeling guilty about not eating them. However,
if you do enjoy them, weve provided suggestions for boosting their
benefits to make them worth keeping in your repertoire.
Celery -- Its the quintessential diet food and often labeled a free
food on many weight-loss programs. So you might guess it is one of the
healthiest veggies around. But the real reason its so commonly paired
with a carrot for that anytime snack is that it has only 27 calories. The
crunch keeps your mouth busy so youre less likely to eat something more
fattening (i.e., potato chips). Other than that, theres not a whole lot
else to it. Extra-Nutrition Addition: If youre looking for a low-cal
snack and you like celery, go ahead and munch on a stalk, but pair it with
other veggies, like carrots and bell peppers, to fill your vitamin and mineral
2. Fruit roll-ups -- You know they contain sugar,
but you probably also thought that they had at least some nutrition perks.
After all, they are made from fruit, right? Unfortunately, most dont pack
the same vitamin punch as their whole-fruit counterparts. Extra-Nutrition
Addition: Fill those lunch boxes with whole, fresh fruit or for a similar
texture, unsweetened dried fruits, such as plums or apricots, for natural
sweetness and a variety of nutrients and antioxidants.
Cucumber -- You might as well be eating water since thats about all you
get from the pickles precursor. Of course, cucumbers are more filling
than H2O. Extra-Nutrition Addition: Go ahead and add them to salads to boost
the satisfaction factor. Just be sure to include more nutrient-dense
ingredients such as peppers, tomatoes and broccoli so you get some vitamins and
4. Fruit-flavored yogurt -- Flavored yogurts,
especially those with fruit on the bottom, can be super-high in sugar (think
nine teaspoons per serving!), which not only boosts the calories, it also
cancels out the infection-fighting powers of the live and active bacteria in
the yogurt. Extra-Nutrition Addition: Plain, low-fat yogurt has fewer calories
than flavored versions (approximately 143 calories instead of 225 calories).
Just add your own fresh fruit or seeds and nuts for extra sweetness and fiber
without all the sugar. Be sure the brand you choose contains live and active
cultures (it's listed on the side of the package). This simple form of yogurt
also has more calcium and protein and provides iron and vitamin A.
5. Vegetable juice -- Ads for veggie juice offer it up as
a healthful alternative when youre too busy to eat your "five-a-day."
While its better than not eating any veggies -- it is loaded with
nutrients, including vitamins A and C and heart-healthy folate -- many brands
are ultra-high in sodium. One small 6-ounce can of the average vegetable juice
contains 491 milligrams. Thats more than a third of the recommended daily
limit. Not to mention that when you drink your produce, you miss out on
heart-healthy, satisfying fiber. Extra-Nutrition Addition Look for a low-sodium
version of the juice or, if you have a juicer, make your own sodium-free
concoctions. Better yet, eat your veggies whole and leave nothing to chance.
This way youre sure to get the benefits of fiber as well as the
6. White rice -- While its versatile
enough to serve with chicken, fish, Chinese food or even in pudding, and it is
low in calories, the process of refining rice strips it of many of its vitamins
and minerals, as well as fiber. Extra-Nutrition Addition: Anything white rice
can do, brown can do better. The darker variety has heart-healthy fiber and is
higher in trace minerals. Steam it and serve with mixed veggies and lite soy or
teriyaki sauce or stir into tomato soup to bulk it up.
Eggplant -- This veggies utter lack of nutrition doesnt mean you
should stop eating it if you like it. Its extremely low in calories (just
13 per half-cup serving) and its consistency makes it a good stand-in for meat
or chicken in some of your favorite dishes. Extra-Nutrition Addition: Combine
eggplant with tomatoes and spinach in Italian dishes to create more nutritious,
but equally filling meals. Just be careful not to use a lot of oil, which gets
soaked up easily by sponge-like eggplant and can increase the fat content of
8. Yogurt-covered raisins or pretzels -- They
sound like a health nuts ideal low-fat snack. But the fact is, the
"yogurt" on these snacks is more like a candy coating. This means its
high in sugar and lacks many of the active bacteria that give yogurt its health
benefits. Extra-Nutrition Addition: Stick to plain raisins or low-fat pretzels
stirred or dipped into plain, low-fat yogurt for a healthier
9. Iceberg lettuce -- It has next to no calories
and practically nothing else, which means when you use it as a base for salads,
you miss out on the opportunity to reap valuable nutrients. Extra-Nutrition
Addition: Add power to your salad by tossing it with a darker lettuce, such as
Romaine (for vitamin A) or other greens, like watercress or mesclun. Even
better, use spinach leaves, which also contain heart-healthy folate, iron and
lutein, a substance that offers eye protection.
pineapple -- While it sounds healthy, pineapple is the one dried fruit that is
typically coated with sugar. As a matter of fact, its so high in the
sweet stuff, you might as well be eating candy. Extra-Nutrition Addition: For a
sweet treat, serve juicy, fresh pineapple rings dipped into low-fat yogurt
mixed with fat-free whipped topping, or try unsweetened dried fruit. Most are
sweet enough as they are, such as apricots or apples.