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'Good' foods that are actually bad for you

August 18, 2012

Last week, I discussed unhealthy foods that get a bad rap. This week, we’ll examine a few examples of foods touted as healthy but which really are the opposite.

The foods on this list are popular foods that are commonly found in people’s kitchens because of years of ads and TV commercials promoting them as healthy choices. But putting these foods into your regular dietary rotation may actually be adding unnecessary additives and calories into your diet.

Here are the foods to replace ASAP.

1. Instant oatmeal: Oatmeal is good for us. It lowers cholesterol, it’s high in fiber, and it’s a whole-grain food. Instant oatmeal, however, isn’t so healthy. Here’s why: Although instant, flavored oatmeal is low in fat and cholesterol, it is higher in sugar, higher in calories, lower in protein and lower in fiber per serving as compared to its whole, rolled-oats counterpart. Eat plain oatmeal.

2. Canned soup: Just like salad, soup has been touted as a noble food for dieters. Unfortunately, soup can be surprisingly unhealthy. Granted, there are some very healthy options, but once again, the health-facts label might reveal unhealthy details. Many canned soups tend to have a very high amount of sodium — sodium is often used in prepackaged foods as a preservative. Further, many soups contain cream and full-fat milk which can cause your soup to be high in saturated fat. Instead, eat lower-sodium and broth-based soups.

3. Granola and granola bars: Somehow, granola has become the be-all and end-all of what is considered healthy. Sorry, but although granola has some very healthy ingredients (rolled oats for one), it also contains tons of sugar, added fats (from ingredients like coconut) and sodium. Instead, opt for snack bars and cereals that are high in fiber, contain whole grains and protein, and are low in sugar and sodium.

4. Flavored yogurt: Recently, with all of the “digestive yogurts” on the market, people gobble up yogurt, thinking it is a healthy choice. But most flavored yogurts are packed with sugars, high-fructose corn syrup, chemicals (sugar-free varieties especially), fillers and preservatives. Instead, eat plain yogurt, or, even better, Greek yogurt — which is higher in protein and lower in sugars — mixed with fresh or frozen berries.

5. Fat-free and reduced-fat foods: Most foods manufactured to be reduced in fat are then pumped with fillers, preservatives and sugars. Granted, there are some less-processed foods that come in low-fat and leaner varieties that are fine, but be sure to read the label on foods that say “reduced fat.” More often than not, you will get a lot more ingredients than you bargained for. Generally, eat whole foods which are naturally low in fat.

Now, eating these foods isn’t going to kill you. However, if your goal is to put the best, most supportive foods into your diet, you have to know what the next-level choices are. Replace the foods on this list with the recommended items, and you’ve just taken a big step toward optimum nutrition.

Chad Smith is a Hagerstown personal trainer and co-owner of Home Team Fitness LLC. Go to for more information.

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