granola bars

5 “Healthy” Foods That Aren’t So Good For You

July 11, 2012 at 9:23 am , by

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a budding health writer, it’s that foods marketed as “healthy” need a very, very close look. Usually, things that are actually good don’t need an elaborate marketing plan to convince you. (This is why there’s no packaging in the fresh produce section.) Even some things that we all assume are perfectly healthy aren’t so good after all. That’s why we’ve put together this  list of sneaky foods with the help of Marjorie Nolan, R.D., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

1. Coconut Water
We’ve been seeing coconut water everywhere recently, possibly because this summer’s record heat wave is ramping up everyone’s thirst. “Coconut water does have potassium and extra electrolytes in it, so it can be very hydrating. But it also comes with lots of sugar, which adds up fast, especially if you buy a big bottle with multiple servings,” says Nolan. The verdict: Fine for right after a sweaty workout, but most of the time your best bet is good old-fashioned water.

2. Flavored Fat-Free or Low-Fat Yogurt
Those creamy, fruity flavors must be good diet food, right? But the missing fat is often replaced with tons of sugar or else artificial sweeteners that can trick your body and set you up for more cravings later on. “If you save these as an after-dinner treat, they can work. But a lot of people think these are a great healthy snack or diet breakfast item, but they’re not going to make you feel full or help you lose weight in the long run,” Nolan says.

3. Pomegranate Juice
Pomegranates are one of the most antioxidant-rich foods. But the juice? Not so much. “Most of the antioxidants are in the skin,” Nolan says. “The problem is that once you process the fruit, press it, bottle it and sell it, the benefits of the natural fruit are pretty much null and void.” The same goes for açai berry juice, which is being touted as a cure-all for arthritis, weight loss and more all over the Internet.

4. Granola bars
“Some granola bars are no different than candy bars,” Nolan says. While you may think you’ve found a perfectly delicious guilt-free snack, many are loaded with so much sugar or chocolate that it outweighs any benefits granola has on its own. She recommends looking for brands that have less than 12 grams of sugar per bar with at least 3 grams of fiber.

 5. Bananas
We almost had a mutiny at the LHJ office over this one. But for some people, bananas can aggravate symptoms of acid reflux and seem to stir up major gas and bloating, too. “Bananas are also really dense. They’re binding, so they can cause constipation,” Nolan adds.