When it comes to dieting, most of us have the basics down pat. Brownies, cakes, coolies, fast food, greasy chips and anything fried are foods that must be avoided. However, there are many sneaky foods that are thought to be healthy, but actually have the potential to derail your diet faster than a Big Mac. These tricky foods are often deemed as diet friendly and healthy alternatives to junk food favorites. Curious about which foods to look out for? Here are 8 foods with healthy reputations that aren't nutritious as you think.
1. Turkey Burgers
Many people believe that a burger made with turkey contains less calories and fat than one made from ground beef. But often, turkey burgers, especially those ordered in restaurants, are made form dark meat and turkey skin, meaning they're high in saturated fat and calories, per Today. In its absolute worst form, turkey burgers can be made entirely from dark skin, giving it an alarmingly high fat content.
Wraps are often marketed as a healthier version of a sandwich. In reality, a sandwich is usually a more diet-friendly option. Cosmopolitan writes that if you were to roll out a wrap, it could be up to 1 foot across and contain up to 300 calories. The surface area of a wrap is much bigger than two slices of bread, meaning there's more mayo and fatty dressings slathered on it.
3. Dried Fruits and Nuts
Many people who are health-conscience munch on dried fruit and nuts, which are both quite high in calories. Marie Claire writes that when fruit is dried, there is less water, causing sugar to become more dense. This means that dried fruit has a lot more calories and carbs than fresh fruit. According to Livestrong, one-half cup of dried apples, apricots, and raisins has double the calories and at least twice the carbs compared to one cup of fresh fruit. Nuts are also high in calories. As much as 80 percent of a nut is fat, and while most of it is healthy, good-for-you fat, it still packs a lot of caries, er Mayo Clinic. This certainly doesn't mean you should start eating chips and crackers instead. Rather, make sure you practice portion control when you're snacking on either of these foods. And whenever possible, choose fresh fruit rather than its dried counterpart.
4. Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter
In theory, reduced fat peanut butter sounds like it should be healthier alternative to regular peanut butter. But it has nearly as many versions, in addition to added sugars, more sodium, and partially hydrogenated oils, which are unhealthy fats that can raise you LDL, says Prevention. Reduced fat peanut butter also contains maltodextrin, a carbohydrate filler that provides no nutritional benefits. Stick with all-natural peanut butter instead. "All-natural peanut butter allows you to reap the heart-healthy fat benefit without the added carbohydrates, and sodium," Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD, author of The Miracle Carb Diet; Make Fat and Calories Disappear--with Food.
Tofu is often thought to be a healthy alternative to meat. While plain tofu is certainly a better choice than most meats, any people do eat it by itself because it is pretty plain tasting. It's often loaded with other flavor boosting ingredients, turning this high protein; and calcium filled food dish that's packed with sodium, calories, saturated fat, and sugar, per Cosmopolitan.
This is especially prevalent when ordering tofu at restaurants. Often, they will coat their tofu dishes with rich, calorie packed sauces and sometimes even deep fry it to give it a better texture. In this case, you're much better off ordering fish or some type of lean meat. If you're cooking with tofu you can make sure you're not transforming it into an unhealthy meal by enhancing its flavor with nutritious, good for you ingredients. Also, you can get the best flavor out of your tofu by getting most of the water out before cooking it, writes Woman's Day.
6. Butter Substitutes
Dieters have heard repeatedly that butter is bad and should be avoided at all costs. Butter isn't the real bad guy, though. It's butter substitutes such as margarine, that can be detrimental to any diet. According to SkinnyMom, margarine, shortenings, and spreads contain bad for you ingredients including trans fats and free radicals, both of which have been linked to obesity, liver disease, cancer, and diabetes.
You're much better off sticking to good old fashioned butter. It does have saturated fat, but there are some benefits as well. SkinnyMom writes that when butter comes from grass fed cows, it is rich in conjugated linoleic acid, a group of chemicals found in dairy products that help to fight cancer and aid in weight loss.
Many believe that sipping smoothies is healthier than guzzling coffee drinks and juices. Despite its healthy ingredients, such as milk and fruit, a smoothies is typically packed with calories and can be loaded with 4 times the daily limit of sugar, according to Marie Claire. In fact, ordering from a smoothie shop is one of the worst things you can do for your diet.
WebMD writes that a smoothie can have 80 grams of sugar, 350 calories or more, very
little protein, and no fresh fruit. Smoothie shops will use a fresh concentrate instead, and have been known to include sorbet, ice cream, and sweeteners, creating something similar to a a milkshake. if you've got to have your smoothie fix, get the smallest size, and ask for fresh fruit. low-fat yogurt, milk, or protein powder to ensure you're getting plenty of protein and nutrients.
8. Rice Milk
Rice milk is one of the many milk alternatives that is marketed as a nutritious option. But unless it's fortified, rice milk is just fluid from rice that's naturally high in carbohydrates and low in protein and calcium, according to Prevention. In other words, there are hardly any nutritional benefits in a glass of rice milk. As long as you don't have a dairy allergy, you're better off drinking fat-free organic cow's milk.
"It's far superior from a nutritional point of view because it's loaded with calcium, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12, riboflavin, and magnesium", Bethany Thayer, RD, director of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, compare, 8 ounces of fat-free organic milk contains 83 calories and 0.2 grams of fat, while 8 ounces of rice milk had 120 calories and 2 grams of fat. If you need a dairy replacement, soy and almond milk are both healthy options.