Foods That Are Surprisingly Unhealthy

Some foods just have a healthy halo. But just because a food sounds healthy, doesn’t mean it is. Don’t be duped by these four foods that sound healthy, but aren’t always.

Veggie burgers: Even if you’re not a full-time vegetarian, you may sometimes be tempted by veggie burgers, which sound downright virtuous. But if you’re thinking of ordering one in a restaurant, make sure to quiz your server. Often, these meatless patties are deep-fried, negating some of the health boon of going meat-free. If you’re buying them at the store, read the ingredients to find one without lots of fillers.

Salad: At a barbecue restaurant I went to the other night, I noticed a seeming standout from the glut of glazed ribs and burnt brisket: salad. A closer look at the ingredients, though, revealed that the healthy lettuce and cherry tomatoes would be topped with grated cheese, croutons and a bunch of creamy dressing. It’s add-ons like these that often make restaurant salads calorically equal to a double cheeseburger. One step in the right direction? Ask for dressing on the side and then dip the veggies in it ... you’ll end up using far less.

Wraps: What could sound lighter and more innocuous than a wrap? This isn’t heavy bread, just a thin layer of ... refined flour. Lots of it. A wrap can deliver as many as 350 calories (in a 12” tortilla) and that’s before adding the filling. Salty, fatty processed meats and calorie-laden dressings can further do damage through this popular lunch choice. Fried chicken isn’t made healthier just by being tucked into a wrap. And even wheat and spinach wraps aren’t usually more nutritious. If you’re buying tortillas to use at home, look for 100% whole wheat and look for one that’s 8” or smaller -- or just stick to regular ole (100% whole grain) sandwich bread.

Juice: With the popularity of juice fasts, it can be hard to remember that juices are the sugary essence of fruit. Stripped of the fiber that bulks it up, fruit juice contains sugar and vitamins, but calories can add up quickly. Four ounces of juice are equivalent to a single serving of fruit, delivering 50 - 60 calories. Look for 100% pure fruit juice and top a 4 ounce-serving with seltzer for a refreshing fruit spritzer. If you have a juicer, make sure to add plenty of low-sugar veggies, like kale, cucumbers or celery, to avoid a sugar rush.

Kerri-Ann is a registered dietitian and nutrition coach who writes on food and health trends. Find more of her work at kerriannjennings.com or follow her on Twitter @kerriannrd or Facebook.

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