Take a moment and consider this logic: 1. Fat-free foods are healthy. 2. Skittles are fat-free. 3. Therefore, Skittles are healthy.
Make sense? Of course not. But it's exactly the type of reasoning that food manufacturers want you to use.
You see, in our example, we started with a false premise. That's because the term "fat-free" is often code for "high-sugar" -- an attribute that makes a product the opposite of healthy. Case in point: Johns Hopkins University researchers recently determined that high blood sugar is an independent risk factor for heart disease. So high-glycemic foods -- those such as sugars and starches that raise your blood sugar dramatically -- are inherently unhealthy. (See Skittles, above.)
Unfortunately, faulty food logic is far less obvious when you're shopping outside the candy aisle. Why? Because making healthy choices isn't as simple as knowing that beans are packed with fiber, or that fruits are loaded with disease-fighting antioxidants. After all, manufacturers often add ingredients, such as sugar, that can instantly turn a good snack bad.
As a result, many of the products that you think are wholesome are anything but. And that's why we've created our list of "healthy" foods that you can -- and should -- live without.
The upside: Yogurt and fruit are two of the healthiest foods known to man.
The downside: Corn syrup is not. But that's exactly what's used to make these products supersweet. For example, a cup of Colombo blueberry yogurt contains 36 grams (g) of sugar, only about half of which is found naturally in the yogurt and fruit. The rest comes in the form of "added" sugar -- or what we prefer to call "unnecessary."
The healthy alternative: Opt for Dannon Light 'n Fit Carb & Sugar Control Yogurt, which has 90 percent less sugar than regular yogurt does.
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The upside: Beans are packed with fiber, which helps keep you full and slows the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream.
The downside: The baked kind are typically covered in a sauce made with brown and white sugars. And because the fiber is located inside the bean, it doesn't have a chance to interfere with the speed at which the sugary glaze is digested. Consider that 1 cup of baked beans contains 24 g sugar: That's about the same amount in 8 ounces of regular soda.
The healthy alternative: Red kidney beans, packed in water. You get the nutritional benefits of legumes, but without the extra sugar. They don't even need to be heated: Just open the can, rinse thoroughly, and serve. Try splashing some hot sauce on top for a spicy variation.
The upside: The seaweed it's wrapped in contains essential nutrients, such as iodine, selenium, calcium, and omega-3 fats.
The downside: It's basically a Japanese sugar cube. That's because its two other major components are white rice and imitation crab, both of which are packed with fast-digesting carbohydrates and almost no protein.
The healthy alternative: Real sushi made with tuna or salmon. These varieties have fewer bad carbohydrates, while providing a hefty helping of high-quality protein. Better yet, skip the rice, too, by ordering sashimi.