You probably already realize that adding zucchini or carrots to a cake won’t magically make it low calorie or healthy. But you might not realize that there are many foods that sound healthy but really aren’t.
It might seem as though bran muffins are the perfect way to get needed fiber, but the 3 grams in an average bakery offering don’t justify all the white flour, sugar, fat and calories that go along with it. A better breakfast is to mix 2 tablespoons of wheat bran into hot, steel-cut oatmeal and top it with a handful of raisins.
Sushi sounds like a great way to enjoy fish, but the ratio of fish to rice — usually white rice — makes the protein portion minuscule (and, ounce for ounce, extremely expensive). Opt for sashimi instead, which is simply slices of raw fish, or ask for brown rice in your rolls. Also, watch the soy sauce — it’s laden with salt — and limit mayonnaise-based spicy sauces that accompany many fancy rolls.
What could be bad about hazelnut and dark chocolate spreads? The problem is that sugar and palm oil are the first two ingredients in many popular store brands. If you love the flavor, dip whole roasted hazelnuts into melted dark chocolate as a treat, or whip up your own spread by blending freshly roasted hazelnuts in a food processor until a paste forms and then folding in melted chocolate.
Beet and carrot chips sound yummy and should be low-calorie, right? Be aware that vegetable alternatives to potato chips still get more than half their calories from oil. One ounce has the same calories as a 6-ounce sweet potato, but few of the potato’s nutrients. If you want a veggie crunch, oven-bake very thin slices of your favorite vegetables.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada has more on these and other foods that only sound healthy.