HEALTH EDUCATION: Foods That You Think Are Healthy But  are Not

HEALTH EDUCATION: Foods That You Think Are Healthy But are Not

10 Foods that you think are healthy but are not


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Image credit: AussieBlends

Is Frozen Yogurt Really Healthy?


Frozen yogurt does not contain cream, so it’s lower in calories and fat as compared to ice cream. This might sound like great news, but there are other factors you should consider before you snack.

It’s important to remember that frozen yogurt is not the same as fresh yogurt and does not offer the same healthful benefits. Fresh yogurt contains probiotics, a type of bacteria that helps both prevent digestive problems and boost your immune system.

Probiotics, however, do not survive in cold temperatures, and are lost in the freezing process associated with frozen yogurt.

Heather Bell-Temin, registered dietitian and nutritionist in the UPMC Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, said serving sizes are the key to enjoying frozen yogurt with a healthy diet.

“Yogurt is a delicious, cool summer treat that can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy diet,” Bell-Temin says.

Most frozen yogurt shops use self-serve machines, making it difficult to tell just how much you are getting, but it’s important to pay close attention to portion sizes. Stick to the smallest size bowl and be careful with how high you are piling the toppings.

In many shops, you can even add cake or brownie bits. So, while you may have started with something healthy, those toppings pack on extra calories and fat.

Instead of adding candy as a topping, try fruit. Topping your treat with strawberries, bananas, and blueberries is a great way to add nutrients and vitamins.

Before enjoying a serving of your favorite frozen yogurt, stop to think about what you are actually eating. Watch your serving size, be careful with toppings, and understand that you are still eating dessert.



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Image credit: Best Healthy Green Smoothie Recipes

When the ingredient label says, “concentrate,” that means they’ve removed the water and only left the sugar and flavonols that are in the fruit. This is to increase shelf-life, but the best way to eat fruits is through fresh fruits/frozen fruits. That way you’re getting all the benefits from the fruits. Frozen fruits are just as cheap, so if you have the time you could make your own smoothie that’s natural and just as good! I like frozen fruits because they are cheaper than fresh, and they are just as good because they’re frozen when they’re ripe. They last longer than fresh fruits, too! My food science professor loved to stress the fact that frozen fruits are just as cheap & good as fresh ones. That way I can help my clients on a budget someday to be healthy. : ) Hope I could be of assistance.


Image credit: Food & Wine India

Attractively packaged vitamin-flavoured water, and relaxing drinks are the latest entrants. Good old juices are now cold-pressed, sparkling, or organic.

Many claim to be low-sugar and preservative-free. Sounds better than much-maligned colas? But even this category calls for discernment.

Like in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal (in 2015) to MNCs to add juices to drinks and help farmers increase sales also boosted interest. The flip side: in June, food safety regulator FSSAI proposed relaxing norms for carbonated drinks with fruit juices. So, the actual fruit content can be as little as 5 to 10%.

So how do you make sense of this murky kingdom of juices? The old, simple advice largely holds true: fresh fruits are better than juices. And fresh juices are better than packaged ones.

“Food labelling in India is at a nascent stage (made mandatory by FSSAI in 2008, but being enforced recently). Most companies are putting labels out of compulsion,” says Manisha Parelkar, associate professor — food science and nutrition, SPN Doshi Women’s College, Ghatkopar. Parelkar has been studying labels and conducting surveys on nutrition. Her advice: “Illustrations don’t reflect health value. In fact, the nutritional table (at the back) can be misleading too.” (See box)

Despite claims of low- or no-sugar, most beverages have approximately 11g of sugar (100ml), which is high. “The maximum sugar intake per day (for adults) was 25gm (6tsp), but was revised by American Journal of Clinical Nutrition to 16gm (4tsp), from all sources: vegetable, fruits or juice,” says nutritionist Anjali Peswani.

“Fruits have complex sugar that release slowly, so high sugar content (in packaged juices) is surprising,” says nutritionist Dr Ratnaraje Krishna Thar, who has been researching on nutrition and dietetics.

A flavoured water label mentions use of the artificial sweetener aspartame, which experts agree, is worse than sugar. “Research shows that sweeteners are foreign products, and the body takes longer to process them,” says Peswani.

Among the juices on offer, cold-pressed has come to be the most popular new category. Juices are squeezed using a hydraulic cylinder that apparently don’t generate heat and allow little exposure to oxygen. This is different from regular juicers that slice the fruit, generating heat. Heat and oxidation are believed to damage nutrients in fruits. However, while this is the theory on which cold-pressed juices are sold, there is little ground research to back the claim.

Parelkar even cautions that the sugar content of cold-pressed juices could actually be higher: “The technique involved in cold-pressing juices could release acellular sugar (sugar cells get separated from cells of the fruit) which have a greater proportion of fructose.”

Organic juices are a safe bet, say nutritionists, if the source can be verified, and the sugar content is low. Carbonated or sparkling juices, however, are best avoided, because they cause the same harm as cola, says Peswani.

And how does your homemade nimbu pani/juice compare to these fancy beverages? “It balances electrolytes and performs pretty much the same function,” says Peswani. She says you could be making your own flavoured water at home (soak fruits overnight in water, consume the next day).

A lot more can be done by beverage brands as well. Parelkar cites global trends where nutritional labels are mentioned upfront and products are arranged by colour (denoting high to low sugar content): “You can scan labels at a go, based on the indicators.”

While the variety of beverages in the market might seem overwhelming, the labels might be your key to making the best decision.




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Image credit: Voice of Scouting But if weight loss is a goal, trail mix isn’t the ideal snack option. Although nuts are packed with heart healthy fats, they’re also pretty high in calories. So unless they’re used as fuel while foraging in the forest, there are other lower calorie snacks better suited for a less active lifestyle.

STACK: Trail mix has been around for over a century.

Its origins can be traced back to an outdoorsman named Horace Kephart, who helped plot the route of the Appalachian Trail, and recommended a mixture of nuts, raisins and chocolate for hikers in his 1908 book, The Book of Camping and Woodcraft.

Since its inception, trail mix has had a reputation as a healthy snack. But just how healthy is it really? Should this snack be saved for serious hikers, or is it perfectly fine to mindlessly munch on at your desk?

LIVESTRONG.COM : Definition of Trail Mix

“Trail mix” is the term for a mix of bite-sized ingredients that travels well. Other names for trail mix include gorp, which etymology expert Barry Popik says may be an acronym for “good old raisins and peanuts.” Whatever you call it, trail mix typically includes nuts, seeds and dried fruit tossed together without cooking or lightly roasted. It’s perfect travel food because no refrigeration is necessary. Hikers, campers and parents of young children like trail mix because it’s lightweight, filling and portable.

Defining Healthy Eating

Determining if a food is healthy or not depends on your definition of “healthy eating”. Although the USDA’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans are unclear as to what foods to reduce in your diet, they do clarify that increasing your intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is essential to good health. The Harvard School of Public Health emphasizes that you should get your daily protein needs from sources other than red meat, including nuts and seeds — which are often found in trail mix.

How Healthy Is Trail Mix?

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STACK: Trail mix isn’t trail mix without a hefty dose of nuts.

Popular additions include peanuts, almonds, walnuts and cashews. Nuts are a great snack. They taste fantastic, they’re convenient and they’re high in a number of valuable nutrients.

Most nuts have similar nutritional profiles. According to the Mayo Clinic, they contain significant amounts of unsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin E, l-arginine and fiber. Unsaturated fats are known to lower bad cholesterol levels. Omega-3 fatty acids are good for heart health. Protein helps muscles repair and rebuild, allowing you to recover from exercise and get fitter over time. Vitamin E helps prevent plaque from developing inside your arteries. L-arginine also helps with arterial health by making artery walls more flexible. Fiber helps to normalize bowel movements, lower cholesterol levels, control blood sugar and keep you fuller for longer after eating.

The more nuts and dried fruit in your trail mix, the better. However, it’s totally possible to overdo it even with the healthiest of trail mix blends.

Why? Because both nuts and dried fruit are very calorically dense foods. That means they pack a lot of calories into a small volume. While this is good if you’re burning a lot of calories over the course of the day, it’s not so good if you’re just light to moderately active. That’s why serving size is the ultimate x-factor when it comes to the healthiness of trail mix.

If you’re torching a high amount of calories on a daily basis—say you’re an athlete going through a heavy training period or a hiker spending multiple hours on a trail—serving size isn’t quite so important. You need calories to keep going, and trail mix can provide that. But if you’re not quite so active, serving size becomes critically important. Since trail mix contains so many calorically dense foods, its recommended serving size is often surprisingly small. Here’s what one serving of a popular fruit and nut trail mix (which contains peanuts, raisins, sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, cashews and cranberries) looks like in my hand:

Having big hands..Image credit: STACK

Most people go well above that serving size, typically downing closer to three or four servings in a sitting. If you down four servings of that mix, you’re looking at a snack which contains 560 calories, 4 grams of saturated fat and 28 grams of sugar. If you’re someone who’s looking to lose weight or simply maintain a healthy weight while being light to moderately active, those numbers are going to make things tough.

But if you can stick to the recommended serving size or at least a portion that’s somewhat similar, trail mix can be a great snack for just about anyone (provided it doesn’t include a bunch of junk food in place of nuts and dried fruit). You can make sure you’re getting the most out of that serving size by choosing a trail mix that consists mostly of nuts and dried fruit. According to the Cleveland Clinic, you only need about five ounces per week of a variety of nuts to reap many of their most important health benefits. By weight, dried fruit contains roughly 3.5 times the fiber, vitamins and minerals of fresh fruit. That means a little bit can go a long way for your health and wellness.

One way to better control the healthiness of your trail mix? Create your own.


Daily consumption of nuts confers a wide variety of benefits, including reduced risk of heart attack, cardiovascular disease, inflammation, hypertension and diabetes. Seeds (such as sunflower seeds, another frequent inclusion in trail mix) offer many of the same benefits.

Traditional trail mix also includes dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries, banana chips, etc. Dried fruit is used instead of fresh fruit since it has a longer shelf life and is more portable.

Since dried fruit is essentially fresh fruit with most of the water removed, it provides many of the same benefits. In certain cases, dried fruits are actually higher in some nutrients than fresh fruit. A 2005 study found dried apricots were higher in potassium and iron than an equal serving of raw apricots, and dried figs were found to be higher in calcium and fiber than fresh figs. They also found several dried fruits had a higher concentration of phenols, a type of antioxidant compound that can prevent cancer and heart disease.

The base of any nutritious trail mix should be nuts and dried fruit. These two foods have a lot going for them and are an upgrade over the typical ultra-processed snacks many Americans favor. A 2016 review published in Nutrition Journal states “evidence suggests that increasing consumption of both (nuts and dried fruit) could help improve Americans’ nutritional status and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.” When eating trail mix, take it with some water to keep hydrated. It’s VERY energy dense so don’t overdo it, but otherwise it’s full of nuts dried fruit so very nutritious. Check the label. Fairly high in saturated fat but we now know that’s fine in a balanced diet.



Related imageImage credit: WHOLE GRAINS – Unlike white breadwhole grains contain complex carbohydrates which release energy throughout the day! If you struggle with gluten sensitivity, look for the many, new gluten free breads on the market today! BLUEBERRIES – Loaded with antioxidants, blueberries are a staple in most ICpatients diets. If it isn’t 100% whole wheatbread can contain enriched flour, which gives you a sugar spike and crash without any nutritional value. Basically, enriched flour means nutrients are stripped from the bread. Swap it for: Fiber-rich breads that are 100%whole wheat. If you’re automatically assuming that your sandwich is “healthier” for you because you used whole-wheat bread instead of white bread, then sorry, because that sandwich is LYING to you. Many of us have pushed away our beloved white bread in exchange for whole wheat options that we’ve been told are better for us, but a new study found that might not be true.

New research from the Weizmann Institute in Israel shows that white bread and brown bread don’t seem to impact certain key health indicators in the body differently. Researchers took a group of 20 people who normally get about 10% of their calories from bread, asking half of them to eat an increased amount of processed white bread for a week and the other half to eat an increased amount of fresh, whole wheat sourdough bread. The participants then had to stop eating bread for two weeks, at which point their diets were reversed. Throughout the study, researchers monitored certain health indicators in the participants, including their wakeup glucose levels, levels of certain minerals, fat and cholesterol levels, kidney and liver enzymes, and various indicators of inflammation and tissue damage. They found that the two types of bread basically had the same impact on all of these indicators.

But, when researchers dug a little deeper, they found that different people’s bodies do react differently to different types of bread, but it has more to do with the body than the bread. Instead of white or brown bread being better or worse for your body, researchers say their findings could suggest that different foods are better or worse for different bodies. In other words, white bread might be good for your body, while it screws up your mom’s whole system. That could, researchers say, extend to other foods, too, meaning that we shouldn’t be centering our nutrition around fad diets, but we should be listening to what’s best for our bodies.

“The findings for this study are not only fascinating but potentially very important, because they point toward a new paradigm: different people react differently, even to the same foods,” Eran Elinav, a researcher in the Department of Immunology at the Weizmann Institute and another of the study’s senior authors, said in a statement. “To date, the nutritional values assigned to food have been based on minimal science, and one-size-fits-all diets have failed miserably. These findings could lead to a more rational approach for telling people which foods are a better fit for them, based on their microbiomes.”


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Bakeries are everywhere around us. Many of these places provide muffins with a lot of added ingredients that are not healthy for you and your family. In fact the average shop muffin has over 455 calories in it and weights up to 30g. As a matter of fact bigger does not mean better. Below are reasons you should avoid eating store bought muffins.

Quite often the muffins you get in the market, convenience store or even gas stations have added ingredients to preserve the muffins when they are on the shelf. Homemade muffins last only for a few days before they start to become bad. When they are bought from the store the owner does not know how long it will take to sell the products and have to extend their shelf life. These added ingredients over time may be harmful to you and your family.

Another reason is the muffins purchased in the stores are filled with processed sugars and processed fats which are as well bad for your health. That is also the reason these muffins have so many calories. When you bake the same muffins at home you can reduce the amount of processed sugars and fats by substituting some of those ingredients. This will lower the calories and fat intake that you will be consuming. The health is of the highest importance. Small changes to your diet will allow you to be healthy and intake fewer calories a day. Baking your own muffins can help you do this simply and easily while knowing what they are consuming on a daily basis.

Muffins are pretenders. They act like they are for breakfast and that they are perfectly acceptable to eat them first thing in the morning, when you would probably think carefully before eating a piece of cake for breakfast. Muffins are simply cake. Repeat this to yourself at least five times.

When you think about muffins it is a little easier to understand. Muffins are not as well disguised as a healthy breakfast options as some other meals. They are like the drag queen with the five o’clock shadow. Muffins are at least 665 calories. That is not a small number. Now you will shudder to think what will happen to you if you eat that muffin every day.

The other reason to avoid muffins altogether is that even the ones that try to be lower in calories are not that low calorie. Some companies make their best effort to make muffins seem healthy with a zucchini walnut muffin made with real zucchini. Do they commend themselves for resisting the lobbying power of the fake zucchini? Do not think so, but the muffin is still 485 calories. For 485 calories, you would rather eat a ton of dark chocolate straight up. That is a more delicious choice. And you have to say that every so- called low fat muffin that you have tried just does not taste that great. That is why you save cake for dessert and eat it in all its high calorie glory.




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The frozen food section of the grocery store contains foods ranging from pizza and snack foods to traditional meat-loaf-and-mashed-potato dinners to meals targeted at people with health concerns including weight loss, heart health and vegetarian eating.

Despite all the advertisements promoting weight loss-oriented meals, many consumers are confused about whether “diet” dinners really offer the help they need.

Research clearly shows that today’s exploding portion sizes are making weight control more difficult for many people. One advantage frozen meals offer is that they are portion-controlled, preventing overeating if you only eat one dinner. Even if you don’t plan to continue eating frozen meals on a permanent basis, you might use them long enough to help you readjust your expectations of what constitutes a normal portion size.

Those who use frozen diet meals often argue that these are the easiest way for a busy person to get a healthful, low-calorie meal. If the alternatives are eating high-fat choices from fast-food restaurants or cafeterias, or simply grazing on a variety of snack foods instead of bothering to fix a meal “from scratch,” these frozen meals look pretty good.

Too few calories
However, in the long run, this can promote an all-or-nothing mentality: When the frozen meals are not available, people go back to their old habits because they haven’t learned how to make other healthful choices that fit their lifestyle.

Some people look for meals as low in fat and calories as possible. Products that flaunt content “less than 300 calories” may actually be too low in calories for many people. If calories are spread fairly evenly through the day, as is usually recommended, then such a meal was designed for someone who eats only 1,000 calories a day. Diets containing 1,000 to 1,200 calories are really too low to meet the metabolic needs of most adults.

If calorie intake is limited to 1,000 to 1,200 calories, metabolic rate may slow down, making weight control more difficult. Metabolism is the burning of energy (calories) for functions needed to stay alive, such as digestion, growth, blood circulation and healing.

Not enough veggies
Many people who aim for such a low calorie intake end up so hungry or low on energy that they start grabbing snacks high in calories and lacking in nutrients after only a few hours.

Not only are these “under 300 calorie” meals too low in calories to satisfy you for a few hours, they also tend to provide only a small fraction of the vegetables, fruits and grains you need. Current recommendations to promote overall health and lower cancer risk call for a total of five to eleven servings of vegetables and fruits a day.

Even when calories are reduced to create weight loss, two-and-a-half to three cups a day (5 or more servings) of these foods are recommended. Most frozen meals supply a very small portion of fruits and vegetables.

High in sodium
Sodium content is another concern. Frozen meals that aren’t identified as reduced-sodium or heart-healthy often contain from 700 to 1,800 milligrams (mg) of sodium. That makes it challenging for people to stay below the daily maximum of 2,300 mg recommended for the general population.

Such levels make it almost impossible for people who are more “salt sensitive” (those with high blood pressure, African-Americans and middle-aged and older adults) to stay below their recommended limit of 1,500 mg per day.

What is the solution?

First, use the Nutrition Facts label on a frozen dinner or entrée to help you choose one that is low in fat and sodium, and use the product as a base for a quick, nutritious meal. Round out the meal with extra fruit or vegetables and perhaps a whole-grain roll or bread. But don’t fall into the same trap as people who only know how to diet by following pre-planned menus. If you decide to use them, frozen meals should be just one of the many ways that you create balanced meals and appropriate portions.

Nutrition Notes is provided by the American Institute for Cancer Research  in Washington, D.C.© 2006 MSNBC Interactive


NBC News






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Image credit: The Deli at Rainbow Square | Deli | Sandwiches | Salads | Catering

Everybody knows salads are healthy, right? People who are on a diet often opt for entrée salads, whether they’re eating out or at home. But the truth is that a salad is not always your best calorie bet.

Consider: A chicken Caesar salad at Chili’s (loaded with salad dressing, croutons, cheese, and chicken) will set you back 1,010 calories and 76 grams of fat. On the other hand, a Chick-fil-A chargrilled chicken garden salad with fat-free honey mustard dressing has only 230 calories and 6 grams fat.

It’s the fixings that make the difference when it comes to salad calories. If you’re going to pile on the croutons, creamy dressing, cheese, bacon, avocado, mayonnaise-rich prepared salads (like coleslaw), meat, nuts, fried chicken strips, and wonton strips, you might as well order a double bacon cheeseburger and fries.

So what makes a diet-friendly salad? For a healthy salad, start with a variety of colorful veggies, fruits, beans, and mixed greens. When possible, opt for dark, leafy greens like arugula, spinach, and fresh herbs. (The darker the leaf, the more nutritional goodness it has.) Then, pile on grape tomatoes, shredded carrots, cabbage, broccoli, jicama, scallions, mushrooms, red bell peppers, roasted vegetables, or your other favorite vegetables.

For a filling entree salad, add small amounts of low-fat cheese or lean protein like grilled chicken, shrimp, or hard-cooked egg. Top off your salad with a small amount of avocado or chopped nuts to add some healthy fat. (Keep in mind that you need to control portions of healthful but high-calorie items like dried fruits, nuts, cheese, olives, and avocado).

But we’re not done yet: Salad dressing can spell disaster if you use too much of the wrong kind. For a lower-calorie salad, dress with a tablespoon or two of light vinaigrette or salsa, or a flavorful vinegar (like balsamic) along with a little heart-healthy olive oil. If you love creamy dressing, try diluting it with a little water or vinegar — or simply use less of it. A tried-and-true dieter’s trick is to order salad dressing on the side, then just dip the tines of your fork into the dressing before you grab each forkful of salad.

Follow these tips to create or order a delicious salad that is satisfying, low in calories, high in fiber, and full of nutrients. If you frequent a chain restaurant, check the web site to see which of their salads and salad dressings is healthier.

WebMD Expert Review





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Image credit: SHEmazing!


After all we’ve learned in recent years about the importance of fat in our diets and its essential role in heart, brain and gut health, I’m still amazed when I see people at the market reach for something on the shelf, then recoil in horror when they realize they’ve picked up the dreaded full-fat version, instead of the fat-free or low-fat they (wrongly) think is better for them.  What most fat-o-phobics don’t realize is, by dropping full-fat like the package is on fire, they’re actually creating more health problems, not solving them.

But how did we get here? In a nutshell, about 50 years ago, a deeply flawed, heavily promoted study by an influential physiologist, Ancel Keys, managed to wrongly convince the American Heart Association (AHA) and virtually the entire medical community that saturated fat was to blame for heart disease.

The AHA guidelines that ensued led millions of people down the wrong dietary path and helped give rise to a new profit center within the food industry – the low and fat-free ‘Frankenfood’ business. And though the idea of fat as the root of all evil has long since been debunked in numerous studies – most recently in a 2014 meta-analysis of over 80 studies and a half million subjects which found that those who ate more saturated fats did not have more heart disease than those who ate less – the ‘fat equals heart disease’ equation remains ingrained. You better believe the multi-billion dollar Frankenfood industry won’t be disabusing the general public of that notion any time soon. I, however, am happy to!

To my mind, the message is clear: You absolutely do not need to eat low and fat-free foods. You should purge them from your fridge, your diet, and your life – and here’s why:


Despite decent intentions, all that fat-free living has had the opposite effect on health. Instead of making us healthier, we’ve wound up with an obesity and diabetes epidemic, which many attribute to the no-fat movement’s terrible trade-off –swapping fats for carbohydrates like sugar which stimulates the release of insulin, facilitates fat storage and encourages inflammation throughout the body. Bad news for just about everyone, unless you’re burning a huge amount of carbs, running a lot of 10Ks or plowing the lower forty, sans tractor.


If it’s in a box, bag, can or container, chances are your low or no fat food is also a processed one and processed foods do little to support health, even less when fat is reduced or removed. Then in order to get you to keep buying the stuff, food manufacturers have to replace the removed fat with something else roughly similar in taste to the full-fat version. What fills the big fat void? Health tanking add-ins like sugar, artificial sweeteners, chemical flavorings and preservatives. Your body’s denied the nourishing fat it needs and fed a lot of crap it doesn’t need, making low and no-fat foods the worst of all possible worlds.

What you have to keep in mind is that fats, including saturated fats, are on a mission – they feed your brain, help with vitamin absorption, help build cell membranes – so cutting them down or out altogether limits your body’s ability to nourish, heal and repair itself. And that ridiculous fat-free salad dressing you’ve forced yourself to like (sort of)? It actually inhibits your body’s ability to absorb the nutrients in your salad! Seems a bit crazy, eh? Add a little olive oil however and you’ll get a bigger vitamin-absorbing nutritional bang – and a tastier one at that.


Ever notice how after eating a “lite” or fat-free treat you’re hungry for more ten minutes later? Start by blaming those missing satiating fats and extra sweeteners that get processed into the mix, which spike blood sugar, and cause hunger pangs. Full-fat foods however are satisfyingly tasty and digest more slowly, giving your brain and hunger-regulating hormones more time to register fullness, so you’re less likely to overeat in the meantime.

So, next time, instead of trying to fill up on unsatisfying low or no-fat Franken-snacks, trade up and try loading up on snacks with healthy fats, like a few slices of avocado, a handful of almonds, or a scoop of nut butter. You’ll be fueling your body with healthy nutrients, enabling it to feel fuller for a lot longer than you would after eating a sugary, chemical concoction. Better taste, less hunger, more satiety, no extra sugar or chemical additives? Everybody wins. 


If you’ve been on a self-imposed or even doctor-prescribed fat-free regimen for a while now, it’s time to come back to the fold. Here’s a bit of fat for thought:

  • Eat real foods. Avoid foods labeled low-fat or no fat – which are also processed ones.
  • Eat fat from healthy sources.  My general rule of thumb for fat — if it comes from nature, its probably healthy and if it’s made in a factory, it’s probably not.
  • Avoid factory farmed meats. It is not necessarily the meat that is the problem, but what we feed them, inject them with and how the animals are treated.
  • Cook with healthy oils. Use olive oil at lower temperatures and avocado oil, coconut oil, butter or ghee at higher temperatures, instead of processed vegetable oils.
  • Let go of fat fear — your body needs fat for a strong immune system and to support brain, nerve, heart and gut health.



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Image credit: Mother Nature Network

NDTV FoodEnergy bars are one of the few foods that started out in space and made its way back to earth. Yes, that’s right.

Manufactured by the Pillsbury Company, these “space food sticks”, as they were called in the 1960’s, were basically non frozen snacks that provided both energy and nutrition. These slim bars were easy to carry and could fit comfortably in the helmets of the astronauts.

It was only a matter of time before this bar was reformulated and reinvented to be used as fuel for athletes, and also for those who aspired to eat healthy and others who required the necessary nutrition. Like all food, these bars are meant to enhance your physical energy, nourish you, and give you that protein kick along with a combination of fats, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins – all balanced together to give you what they promise.

The difference between an energy bar and an energy drink, besides its physical state, is that the bar does not have any caffeine. These versatile bars come in many different flavours that range from the simple vanilla, chocolate or strawberry to the more decadent raw cacao with peanut butter and the fruit-based flavours. The selection available is so vast that you name it and it’s there! 10 Toxic, Sugar-Filled Granola Bars That You Should Never Eat (and their healthy swaps)

This fantastic article was written by Trisha Miller, a freelance writer from Boise, ID. She is a dedicated vegan who promotes an all-around healthy lifestyle. 

People seem to have this misconception about “granola,” in that many think it is always healthy. Granola is simply a mixture of grains, oats, dried fruit, and nuts, which sounds great. However, many manufacturers believe they can put the cheapest, low-quality, ingredients into our food and call it “healthy.”

This means that not all granola bars are created equally. Many breakfast bars, energy bars, and granola bars come packed with added sugars, fats, and very few ingredients that are actually beneficial to our bodies.

If you aren’t already aware, ingredients are listed from highest quantity to lowest. This means if the first few ingredients are sugars or other additives, you’re essentially eating sugar with some granola on the side.

A high-quality granola bar should be packed with protein, fiber, and lovely vitamins – not just sugars, carbs, and oil. Not to mention, all of the ingredients should be easily identifiable and found in nature.

What Are Granola Bars Commonly Made Out Of?

Dried and candied fruit, sugar, man-made sweeteners, preservatives, lots of carbs, tons of oils, and GMO ingredients.  Of course, all of these ingredients are most likely okay in small doses.

Yet, eating a bar or two per day with all of these ingredients inside is not the way to curb hunger and give your body the essential building blocks it needs to keep your mind fresh and your body full of energy.

If you take a closer look at some of the below examples, you can see that many are filled up with processed sugars in many different forms: chocolate, brown rice sugar, glucose, corn syrup, and plain ol’ bleached white sugar.

Again, while some of these are okay once and a while, making this a staple of your diet can undoubtedly increase some health risks such as imbalanced spikes in blood sugar, which totally defeats the purpose of eating a granola bar in the first place.

It has been proven that our brains don’t know how to process and expel ingredients like processed sugars, which means you’ll be left feeling sluggish, groggy, and unfocused all day. [Agrawal, R., & Gomez-Pinilla, F. (2012, May 15). ‘Metabolic syndrome’ in the brain: Deficiency in omega-3 fatty acid exacerbates dysfunctions in insulin receptor signalling and cognition. Retrieved from]

Serious Health Risks

If that wasn’t enough, eating these on the regular can even greatly increase your risk for much more serious health problems like diabetes. Diabetes is a metabolic disease in which the sufferer is unable to produce any or enough insulin to keep up with the sugars ingested into the body and absorbed into the blood. [Medical News Today. (2016, January 5). Diabetes: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments. Retrieved from]

This results in an inability to control daily blood sugars and can lead to rapid and unhealthy weight loss and gain, extreme fatigue, an inability to heal cuts or bruises on the body, and numbness/tingling in the hands and feet. In addition, those at risk for diabetes are also commonly linked with an increased risk for cardiovascular problems.

With all of that being said, please understand your body and how it prefers to function. Feeding yourself things that your body can use to keep it running strong is always a good idea. Eating one of these bars on an infrequent basis does not mean an increased risk for diabetes.

A diet that revolves around an unproportionate sugar, oil, and carbohydrate could lead to dangerous conditions such as diabetes. Let’s take a look at some bars that do not have your body’s best interest at heart.


1. Fiber One

Fiber One bars are packed full of a laundry list of ingredients that your body doesn’t need. They had the longest list of ingredients out of any bars I mention in this article.

Things like corn syrup, puffed rice or corn, rice flour, and palm oil are all at the top of the ingredients list. Sure, they are higher in fiber than some other bars out there, but with all the added junk that they do have, it’s just not worth it. [Fooducate. (n.d.). Fiber One Chewy Bars, Oats & Chocolate. Retrieved from!page=product&id=2DD3E46A-E106-11DF-A102-FEFD45A4D471]

2. Quaker Oats

Albeit marketed towards children, these bars really aren’t healthy for anyone. The first 5 ingredients are whole grain rolled oats, brown sugar, rice flour, sugar, and salt. Not to mention many bars contain things like milk chocolate, which just adds even more unnecessary sugars right on top. It’s a struggle to find anything of value in any of these bars. [Quaker Oats Company. (2014, September 01). Quaker Chewy Granola Bars: Dark Chocolate Chunk. Retrieved from]

3. Special K

I will give Special K credit for having a decent looking product. One bar called the “Nourish” bar seems much better than most big name bars. However, it still contains unneeded ingredients like corn syrup, sugar, fructose, and cane syrup. It does contain a couple of healthy nuts like peanuts and almonds but still falls way short from bars that are truly healthy. [Kellogg Company Inc. (n.d.). Special K Nourish* Dark Chocolate Chunks & Almond Bars. Retrieved from

4. Clif

Clif bars are arguably designed for those who need a boost pre or post workout. Someone who eats this bar as a snack will not see much of a positive result. Clif bars are high in calories, sugars, and carbs. This might be good for someone going on a long run and could benefit from some extra calories, but to the everyday Joe, all of their products are just way too much. [Clif Bar & Company. (n.d.). Clif Bar: Chocolate Chip. Retrieved from

5. Kashi

Kashi is the perfect example of why reading the label is so important. Some of Kashi’s products are good and others are just downright disappointing. For example, the Kashi Go Lean Plant Powered Bar in Salted Dark Chocolate & Nuts contains a lot of ingredients that should be much lower on the list or not included at all, especially for a lean bar. [Kashi Company. (n.d.). GOLEAN Plant-Powered Bar, Salted Dark Chocolate & Nuts. Retrieved from

The first few ingredients are cane syrup, tapioca syrup, pea crisps, chocolate, and peanut flour. [7] It’s not the worst bar on this list by any means, but it’s a great eye-opener for companies who claim to be healthy.

6. Zone Perfect

I’m not even sure where to start with Zone bars. They are in no way shape or form good for you. A newer item called the “Cinnamon Bun Cookie Dough” bar contains 200 calories in one bar, 80 calories from fat, 50 grams of cholesterol, 210 grams of salt, and 14 grams of sugar. The ingredients list is atrocious as well. Just stay away from these at all costs. [Abbott Laboratories. (n.d.). Cinnamon bun cookie dough. Retrieved from]

7. Balance 

The Chocolate Caramel Peanut Nougat bar from Balance is essentially what you would see in a candy bar. 23% of your daily saturated fat needs are being met in one bar along with 22 grams of carbs and 12 grams of sugar. [Nutrition Express Corporation. (n.d.). Balance Bar Chocolate Caramel Peanut Nougat 6 Bars. Retrieved from ] 

If that wasn’t enough, you could also see ingredients like tapioca syrup, sugar, palm oil, cane syrup, butter, and brown rice syrup…yikes. 

8. Nature’s Valley

Their classic Oats & Honey bar contains whole grain oats, sugar, canola oil, rice flour, honey, salt, brown sugar syrup, baking soda, soy lecithin, and “natural flavor.” I think that list speaks for itself. Aside from the processed oats, there are no quality ingredients in this bar. [General Mills. (n.d.). Oats ’N Honey Crunchy Granola Bars. Retrieved from

9. Odwalla

Similarly to Kashi, Odwalla’s ingredients aren’t all bad, but there are far too many of them. I counted about 15 completely useless ingredients in the Apple Toffee Pistachio Chewy Nut Bar. Although the nutritional information doesn’t look terrible, this is another bar that isn’t really doing much for your body. [Odwalla Inc. (n.d.). Apple Toffee Pistachio Chewy Nut Bar | Odwalla®. Retrieved from

If you want Pistachios, you’d be better off just buying some unsalted ones.

10. Think Thin

These bars are in the same category as Zone Perfect. I tried to pick a bar that sounded like it would have less junk in it, but to my surprise, the Lemon Delight bar has a whopping 240 calories, 260 milligrams of salt, and only has one ingredient of any use – almonds. [ThinkThin, LLC. (n.d.). Lemon Delight. Retrieved from

These bars brag about the 20 grams of protein inside, but what you don’t know is that they get it from processed soy and many other nasty ingredients. 

10 Great Granola Bar Alternatives: To Buy and To Make

1. Kind 

Kind has exactly the types of ingredients that I like to see. The list is short and includes only ingredients that are great for the body. Things like dried (and unsweetened) fruit and nuts. However, you might occasionally see some added glucose, which is a bit disappointing, but these bars are still light years beyond many bars on this list.

2. Larabar

I wish every bar were as wonderful as the Larabar. The original bar in Apple Pie contains six ingredients: dates, almonds, cinnamon, unsweetened apples, walnuts, and raisins. The sugars are a bit high because of the dried fruit, but all in all every single ingredient is good for the body and has a purpose. [Larabar. (n.d.). Apple Pie. Retrieved from

3. Health Warrior

These bars are very low in calories, about 100, and have a nice short list of ingredients. They contain plenty of fruits and nuts and fewer carbs and grains. The main ingredient is chia seeds, which have a wonderful amount of fiber to support healthy digestion.

4. Curate

Curate bars are free from any GMO ingredients and don’t contain any wheat, which is fantastic. The ingredients contained in the bars could be a tiny bit better, but all in all, they are good. Things like quinoa, fruit, flaxseed, chia seeds, and nuts fill up the ingredient list, which is refreshing, to say the least.

5. Cascadian Farm

Cascadian Farm makes a very traditional granola bar, but they do it better than just about anyone else out there. Organic ingredients and only 80 calories per bar show that they know what they’re doing. If they would update their ingredients with some nuts, seeds, and berries, they’d be unstoppable!

6. Nature’s Path

The Qi’a superfoods bars are an excellent example of what to look for in a granola bar. Low sugar, high protein, and a good amount of calories. Cashews, pumpkin seeds, and blueberries can be found in one such Qi’a bar. [Nature’s Path Foods. (n.d.). Superfood Bars. Retrieved from] This shows that quality ingredients make a quality bar.

7. Zing

The Cashew Cranberry Orange Bar is packed full of protein, coming in at 10 grams. It also has other beautiful ingredients like Cashews (as the first ingredient), cranberries, and agave syrup. This bar is completely naturally sweetened and is a great pick-me-up for snackers and gym bodies alike. [Zing Bars. (n.d.). Cashew Cranberry Orange. Retrieved from

Raw Superfood and Seed Energy Bars

From Nourish the Roots and why I love it. This bar is not messing around. It contains 6 different types of nuts and seeds and absolutely no sugar. The dates help the bars stick together and give it all the sweetness that it needs. That is going to keep your heart healthy and keep your brain sharp all day.

Grain Free Granola Bars

From Intoxicated on Life and why I love it. For those of you who might be looking for more of a traditional granola snack, this is the one for you. The ingredients are very simple (there’s only 7 of them) and you can make this recipe work with whatever ingredients you choose. It calls for unsweetened fruit and nut butter, but there are so many to choose from!

Oat + Nut Chewy Granola Bars

From Edible Perspective and why I Love it. For a bar that looks so tasty, this one contains so many great ingredients. The hemp seeds are very high in protein (10 grams per 3 tablespoons) and so are the nuts and nut butter that you choose to add. This bar would be a wonderful pre-workout treat or just a grab and go snack.

So, there you have it! Remember, it isn’t always about how much sugar or fat is in a product to determine its healthiness. There are so many other factors that contribute to a well-balanced snack. 

Quality ingredients are the first things you should look for in any worthwhile granola bar. Now you know the best and the worst granola bars out there as well as what to look for when you’re at the supermarket.


What are your thoughts?