Contributed by Kate M.

My recipe for healthier eating

  • Watch what you add to salads
  • Use oil and vinegar to dress your salad
  • Eat a variety of nuts instead of a granola bar
  • Get whole grains from bulgar wheat, oatmeal and brown rice instead of sugary cereal

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Recently in my Some Truths about Healthy Foods post, I focused on five health foods that are actually unhealthy. Now I want to expose five more foods that have a healthy reputation but are they really that healthy?

Fat free/lite.  Fat-free foods might meet certain appear healthy but, to improve the taste experience, manufacturers substitute sugar for that missing fat. Next time you are out shopping, check it out for yourself; compare the labels of the regular product to the low fat one.  For example, low-fat Oreo cookies have more calories than the original.  Same thing for “lite” foods—often these foods contain more sugar or artificial sweeteners and are nutritionally-deficient. All you have to do is compare one of the foods that are a source of calcium, yogurt.  When you compare regular yogurt to the lite version, you will find that the amount of calcium drops significantly. If the nutrition value disappears, what’s the point of eating these so-called health foods.  So be sure to check the back of the label closely before getting fooled by the designation.

Super foods. Every year there is a new super food that will improve your health, acai berries, chia seeds, kale. While these foods are healthy and nutritious, the implication is that by including these foods in your diet, all your health needs are handled. In order to be healthy, balance and variety are important too. So, be sure to go for variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains.

Fruit/vegetable juice. Fruit juice seems healthy, it’s made from fruit after all. But generally speaking, fruit juice contains a lot of sugar from concentrate and is light on fiber. On average, a glass of grape juice has almost as much sugar (38 grams) as a can of Coke (40 grams). Besides, there are preservatives, artificial coloring and other additives that are hardly healthy. When it comes to juice, eat whole fruit or stick to water instead.

Vitamin water. I bet you think vitamin water is full of vitamins—I used to think so after all, it has vitamin right there in the title. Well, vitamin water was recently sued for making false health claims. Coke, the company that makes vitamin water, responded by saying there is no reason why anyone would think it was healthy. Vitamin water is made up of water, sugar (again almost as much as a can of soda), and chemically derived ‘vitamins’.

Veggie/pita chips. Maybe you were like me, thinking that fried potato chips are so bad for me that I was better off eating baked veggie or pita chips. Not so fast. They have a few less calories but the same amount of salt and fat. Just pick up the veggie chips and compare them to a bag of Doritos and you will see the difference is quite small.

What healthy substitutes to you have for these unhealthy health foods? We invite you to add your tips in the box below.