It's summertime, and before heading to the beach or the barbeque ... beware! Hidden calories, fat and sugar in many diet-friendly imposters lurk at every picnic table. Contributing editor at Shape magazine and registered dietician Cynthia Sass revealed hidden diet-busting and artery-clogging food foolers.
Food Fooler: Turkey Burger
Why It's Bad: The leanness of a burger has less to do with the type of protein and more to do with the percentage of fat. A turkey burger can pack more fat and calories than a beef burger if the ground meat is made with a higher percentage of dark meat and animal fat. One 4-ounce turkey burger made with 85 percent lean meat can have 17 grams of fat.
Fat Equals: 4 Pats of Butter
Healthy Alternative: Shish Kabobs. Shrimp is low in calories (just five calories per one large shrimp) and rich in protein and heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and 75 percent of Americas fail to get the recommended minimum number of vegetable servings daily. Kabobs alternating shrimp and veggies are a great way to fill the gap. Grilling brings out the natural sweetness in fresh veggies; brush or mist them with an herb or garlic infused oil before grilling -- healthy fat like extra virgin olive oil helps absorb up to 10 times more of the antioxidants. (Note: These kabobs should have more veggies than shrimp on the skewers.)
Food Fooler: Soft Pretzel
Why It's Bad: Soft pretzels are fat free but one giant pretzel can pack nearly 500 calories from the carbohydrate equivalent of 6½ slices of bread. That's more than the recommended number of bread servings for the whole day.
Calories Equal: 5 Servings of Cotton Candy
Healthy Alternative: French Fries. If fried in pure vegetable oil instead of partially hydrogenated oil (aka trans fat), French fries are far from evil. Fresh cut fries bathed in liquid vegetable oil provide heart-healthy unsaturated fats and potatoes are a good source of potassium, vitamin B6 and antioxidants.
Food Fooler: Club Sandwich
Why It's Bad: A staple on every pool menu, it seems like a healthier choice than a burger, but the cheese, bacon and mayonnaise are a recipe for weight gain, packing up to 800 calories. And that's without the side of chips.
Calories Equal: 2 Hamburgers and 6 Chicken Fingers
Healthy Alternative: Potato Salad. Cooked, cooled potatoes are one of the best sources of resistant starch -- a filling, fiberlike substance your body doesn't digest. One study found that replacing just 5.4 percent of total carbohydrate intake with resistant starch resulted in a 20-30 percent increase in fat burning after a meal. To save calories and fat, go for potato salad made with vinegar and Dijon instead of mayonnaise.
Food Fooler: Frozen Yogurt
Why It's Bad: It may be lower in calories and fat than hard ice cream, but just a cup (8 ounce) of fat-free soft serve frozen yogurt packs 40 grams of sugar.
Sugar Equals: 4 Frozen Popsicles.
Healthy Alternative: Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberries. Each is just 35 calories and 4 grams of sugar, and strawberries are filled with antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C and natural substances that help blood vessels relax to control blood pressure. Bonus: Dark chocolate provides heart-protective antioxidants called flavonoids.