20 'Healthy' Foods That Are Actually Unhealthy (And How to Fix Them) Slideshow
August 10, 2012
1. Rotisserie Chicken
Laura Cipullo, R.D., CDE, says that the skin is basically just fat, and the darker meat is higher in saturated fat — therefore it is more likely to raise cholesterol. So opt for the white meat, and please do your arteries a favor and take the skin off. If you roast at home, you can take the skin off before cooking to make it extremely healthy.
2. Egg-White Omelette
Who thinks this is the best breakfast? Cipullo says: Think again, because an egg white alone is oddly absorbed like a sugar and therefore raises your blood sugar. If you have diabetes, egg whites may be the culprit of your morning highs. Let's say you order egg whites with vegetables from the coffee shop. Well, they are probably egg whites with chemicals and cooked on a griddle loaded with unhealthy old oil. So use real, fresh eggs in a nonstick frying pan. Use one whole egg to get a little fat and a high dose of vitamin A. Add an additional egg white for volume and an ounce of salmon to get your morning going with omega-3 fatty acids.
3. Portobello Mushroom Burger
Vegetarian options are seemingly healthy, so you opt for the portobello mushroom burger at the burger joint. It ends up being a deep-fried, breaded portobello mushroom filled with cheese. Guess what? Cipullo says, in this case, a burger would be better, if it's made with lean beef. Don't be fooled by vegetarian meals when eating out. Many times they have excess cheese, not enough vegetables, and are loaded with saturated fats. Instead, try making your own vegetarian sandwich at home.
4. Tuna Sandwich
Cipullo advises: If you want to eat a tuna sandwich as a daily meal, ditch the soggy white bread, the thick mayonnaise, and the mercury-laden canned albacore tuna. Instead, make it fresh in your kitchen with chunk light tuna (preferably the low-sodium version) and add fiber and antioxidants with celery and colorful peppers. Moisten with a tad of olive oil and vinegar. Serve on toasted whole-wheat bread for an extra dose of fiber. Now that's delicious and healthy!
5. Turkey Burger
Cipullo says that everyone orders the turkey burger, thinking this is the healthier burger. In fact, the beef burger may be leaner. Know the percentage of lean meat and choose the burger with greater than 90 percent lean meat. Pair your lean burger with a whole-grain English muffin and voilà, a healthy, balanced lunch! Try these healthy sliders.
6. Sweet Potato Fries
Yes, sweet potato fries are high in vitamin A, but they are often no better than regular fries, says Cipullo. There is nothing unhealthy about a sweet potato; rather, its the fact that it is fried in some unknown vegetable oil, just like regular fries. Fried foods are associated with clogging your arteries and even cancer. Instead, make and bake your fries. Baking fries, whether sweet or not, are the best option.
For a healthy, tasty alternative, click here to see the Spicy Sweet Potato Fries Recipe. (Just leave out the dip.)
7. Grilled Chicken Sandwich
Cipullo points out that what seems like a heart-healthy choice at the sandwich counter may in fact be covered in cheese and bacon while being served with french fries. Instead, make it at home, cut out the bacon, and serve with some grilled vegetables on the side.
8. Turkey Sandwich
America's favorite healthy lunch sandwich, right? Well, it may not be so healthy if the deli is piling on 6 to 8 ounces of turkey plus cheese, mayonnaise, and all the fixings, says Cipullo. Instead, make it at home, use half the amount of meat, and add a slice of the good green fat, avocado.
Cipullo says that many delis add extra cornstarch to make soups thicker and salt cubes to make them tasty. Instead, make a wholesome soup at home using a vegetable broth base, flavored with herbs and spices.
Granola it's so crunchy and healthy for active adults. Cipullo offers this advice: If you prefer the couch or have trouble with portioning, opt for a high-fiber cereal instead. Granola is healthy when it's naked, but food manufacturers dress it up with unnecessary oils, added sugars, and sometimes even candy. Don't be fooled; read the ingredients carefully to avoid these unnecessary fats and sugars. Focus on seeds, nuts, and oats, but remember this is still a calorically dense food. Portioning is key. Opt for using granola as a topping for yogurt and berries or eat it as a snack in the form of a bar.
It's hard to avoid all the rage about smoothies! Cipullo says: Be sure to make your smoothies rather than buy them. Smoothies are not meant to be consumed like water or even juice. Instead, use whole fruits, Greek yogurt, and water to keep this a refreshing and healthy snack. Say goodbye to the scoops of sugar, the artificial flavorings, and the sweetened yogurts found in your smoothie store.
12. Bran Muffins
You are at the coffee shop and are trying to find something healthy. The whole-grain message rings a bell and you see a bran muffin. You order it warmed and add butter. But that muffin is equal to a meal for some people, and just because it's made with bran doesn't mean it's healthy, says Cipullo. This muffin is usually made from a processed mix and then moistened up with butter and sugar. Instead, opt for homemade muffins.
13. Linguine and Clams
Here's another dish that's better made at home. Nicole Ring, R.D., says that while linguine and clams in a white wine broth may seem light, the portion sizes are often enough for two or three people to share. In addition, all that white pasta adds unnecessary calories that will only leave you feeling hungry a short while later, and in many sauces, oil is used to saut veggies, but then butter is used for the finish.
Instead, make this at home using whole-wheat pasta and cut out the butter, using just enough heart-healthy olive oil to coat the pasta lightly. Use chopped fresh herbs and garlic to make the dish light yet flavorful.
14. Vegetarian Sandwich
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Lettuce, tomato, onions, sprouts, avocado, and cheese on whole-wheat bread sounds healthy, but heres why it can be a diet disaster if you're ordering out, says Ring: The bread can be oversized, toasted, and buttered; the description often doesnt mention mayonnaise or "secret sauce," and usually larger portions of cheese and avocado are used which can pack on extra fat and calories.
Instead, make this at home and turn it into an open-faced sandwich, reducing extra unnecessary calories. And forgo the extra slices of cheese. Just using one slice instead of two or three may cut up to 200 calories, depending on the type of cheese.
Most importantly, watch the portion size of the sandwich! Eat half now together with a broth-based soup, fresh fruit, or small salad (with dressing on the side) and save the other half for later.
15. Whole-Wheat Wraps
Tricia Williams, chef-nutritionist and founder of Food Matters NYC, says that whole-wheat wraps contain gluten and are high glycemic toss them out and switch to lettuce wraps; romaine and Boston lettuce are good choices.
16. "The Fish Dish"
Williams says you're better off making this one at home, too. She says that in her time in the restaurant industry, she has observed that lots of kitchens brush their fish with melted butter. Instead, making it at home and pan-searing in an eco-friendly, nonstick pan with organic spray safflower oil is the way to go.
17. Veggie Burgers
Williams says that veggie burgers are often loaded with overprocessed proteins and soy products. While they are vegetarian, there aren't a whole lot of actual vegetables in veggie burgers, so they're not necessarily a healthy choice; rather, they're oftentimes just a non-meat junk food. Homemade veggie burgers are a snap to make out of actual vegetables, beans, and quinoa.
18. Tomato Soup
Williams says that tomato soups are often loaded with sodium. In restaurants, they are often finished with cream or thickened with bread. It's best to make it on your own so you can control the ingredients.
19. Turkey Bacon
Williams says turkey bacon has as many calories traditional bacon, and it is loaded with sodium and artificial ingredients like liquid smoke. Your best bet if you're going to indulge is to look for a heritage variety of bacon from a small production farm that's free of nitrates and sugars.
20. Asian Chopped Salad
Williams says that salads are generally a bad pitfall for people who think they are making a healthy choice and option. Asian chopped salads, Cobb salads, and Caesar salads are loaded and coated with non-vegetable items (nuts, dried fruit, tortillas, cheese, bacon, croutons, etc.) that really stack up the calories. It's best to build your own salad and make conscious choices about what's in the mix!