11 “Healthy” Foods That Nutritionists Won’t Touch
They sound healthy, they look healthy—but are they? Nutritionists help us distinguish between the "looks good" food to the truly good food.
Drink regular tea
"I recommend regular tea. It has known antioxidant properties, and there is way more research out there on the benefits of tea than kombucha," Schapiro says. Here are more secrets that nutritionists won't tell you for free.
Veggie chips and "straws"
Veggie sticks and straws might seem like a diet-friendly alternative to potato chips, but Patricia Bannan, RDN, the author of Eat Right When Time Is Tight suggests steering clear. "The first ingredients are usually 'potato starch' and 'potato flour' which offer little in the way of nutrition and provides zero dietary fiber," she explains.
Get nutty, instead
"While these baked sticks and straws are lower in fat compared to fried potato chips, a better option for snack time crunching would be nuts," Bannan says. "A one-ounce serving of pistachios, for example, offers protein, dietary fiber, and healthy fats which will help keep you full."
If you definitely want to stick to veggie chips, make sure the first ingredient is actually a whole vegetable, like sweet potato, beets, or kale, Bannan says.
Egg whites and egg beaters
"The latest research has shown that there is no need to skip egg yolks. In fact, I encourage my clients to eat them due to the abundance of nutrients found in the yolk such as iron, selenium, folate, choline, and vitamin B12," says Lori Zanini, RD, CDE, the creator of For The Love of Diabetes online program.
Have an egg already
"Studies have found that eating high-quality proteins, like whole eggs, can promote weight loss," Zannini says. Short on time? She recommends buying eggs that come hard-boiled and peeled from the store. All the better if you can find some that are organic, free-range, and free of antibiotics. Read up on these 10 egg "facts" that just aren't true.
You may already know that diet soda contains artificial sweeteners, flavors, and coloring. But here's something you may not have known: Consuming two or more artificially sweetened beverages per day have been linked to an increased stroke risk among postmenopausal women, Ansari says. "There is also some evidence to support a link between long-term diet beverage consumption and an increased risk of chronic diseases such as dementia, type 2 diabetes, and obesity." Here are some more foods to never eat, according to nutritionists.
Even though an occasional diet soda appears to be safe, I encourage my clients to stick to plain water, fruit-infused water, or unsweetened iced tea or iced coffee," says Ansari. Another smart option: A splash of juice mixed with seltzer water. "Replacing diet soda with seltzer mixed with a no-sugar-added juice option such as Welch's 100% Grape Juice serves up a bit of flavor, as well as vitamin C and antioxidants," says Jim White, RDN.
Low-fat and low-calorie yogurts
All yogurts are not created equal, cautions Rebecca Ditkoff, RD, CDN. "Some are a great source of protein, calcium, and probiotics with minimal added sugars, which make a great addition to any meal or snack. However, sweetened yogurts—some of which have up to 20 grams of sugar—are more or less a dessert."
Kara Lydon, RD, LDN agrees with Ditkoff's sentiments and adds that it's important to be wary of low-fat, or "light" yogurts, too. "They're missing the satiating component of dietary fat, and they are usually less than 100 calories per serving which is not substantial enough for a snack," she explains.
Choose full fat
Choose full-fat, Greek or Icelandic unsweetened yogurts. Not only will these options actually keep you satisfied and satiated, but they also they tend to contain two times the protein and half the sugar of regular yogurt, Lydon and Ditkoff explain. Top some with fresh fruit for added flavor.
Meal replacement bars
Whether you're short on time or trying to lose weight, a meal replacement bar might seem like a good solution, but Zanini says you're better off grabbing something else. "Many of these bars contain artificial ingredients and lack real food ingredients that will likely leave you craving more sweets," she cautions. "They also tend to be poorly balanced. Without fiber, protein, and fat, foods will digest quicker and likely lead to overeating later on."