If you’re trying to eat healthy, navigating the supermarket can be tricky. Nutrition facts are complicated, and you probably just look at the calorie number and stop there. But some high-calorie foods are good for you — like peanut butter, for example. How are you supposed to tell what’s healthy and what’s not?
There are all kinds of factors that go into choosing what to eat for a snack. Sometimes, you’re just choosing whatever tastes good. Other times, you’re choosing something functional that you know will keep you satiated until your next meal. And sometimes, you want to eat something that will give you a lot of nutrients so you can feel your best.
Of course, some snacks are going to be better for you than others. A bag of potato chips isn’t going to make you feel the same after eating it as a bag of healthy trail mix. Don’t get us wrong — eating a bag of potato chips when you want it is A-OK. In fact, eating anything you want to is a-okay, all of the time. It’s even okay to eat the junk foods on this list. We’re simply providing some nutritional information for you, so you can be better informed when making your choice about how these foods may or may not affect your body. A diabetic, for instance, needs to be more wary of sugar than someone who’s perfectly healthy.
When deciding which junk foods were the unhealthiest, we looked at a couple of factors. Sugar was a consideration, as was sodium, trans fat, and nutritional value. After considering these factors and browsing all the delicious snacks at the store, these were the absolute unhealthiest snacks we found.
While dark chocolate, on its own, has a number of health benefits, chocolate candy bars throw all that out the window. They’re made with more sugar and processed gunk than anything else, and while some candy bars claim to keep you full and satisfied with crunchy peanuts and other fillings, there’s little to no nutritional value of these snacks. You’re better off eating those peanuts on their own.
Corn chips such as Fritos and Doritos might taste salty and delicious, but they’re not the best for your health. Doritos, for example, contain many chemical and artificial ingredients and have 140 calories and 210 milligrams of sodium for every 11 chips. But who can stop at just 11?
Just because those doughnuts are mini doesn’t mean they’re lighter than other sweet snacks. In four mini doughnuts from Hostess, for example, you get 260 calories and 17 grams of sugar. The ingredient list is massive, with delicious “foods” like cellulose gum, sodium aluminum phosphate, and defatted soy flour. Yum!
Hand pies, like the ones sold by Drake’s and Hostess, are full of chemicals and conditioners. They’re also deep-fried. These folded pies are filled with sugary fruit filling and coated in a sugary glaze. As a result, the fat and sugar content on the label is sky high. Drake’s apple pies, for example, pack in 500 calories, 25 grams of fat, and 30 grams of sugar. And as for Hostess’? Those are fried in an oil blend that contains something called “deodorized hydrogenated beef tallow.”
While some types of candy have at least some nutritional benefit from nuts or cocoa, gummies are pure sugar and colorings. You’ll get a blood sugar spike and crash, leaving you hungry again in no time at all, having consumed hundreds of extra calories.
Like snack cakes, many varieties of packaged cookies also contain partially hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. They’re also loaded with dough conditioners, stabilizers, and preservatives, and are high in fat, calories, and sugar. If you want cookies, take the time to make some from scratch.
How do you make fatty pig meat less healthy? Fry it and cover it in salt. That’s exactly what happens to pork rinds before they’re packaged; some kinds are also doused in chemicals and flavorings. An ounce of Utz brand pork rinds contains 160 calories and 460 milligrams of sodium. You’d probably be better off just eating bacon.
Your grandmother’s delicious cake goes stale after a few days, so how can the ones from brands like Drake’s, Hostess, and Little Debbie sit out on the shelf for weeks with only a cellophane wrapper keeping them fresh? You can thank partially hydrogenated oils, which help keep products shelf-stable, for that. Packaged snack cakes also tend to pack a substantial amount of fat, calories, and sugar into what usually amounts to just a few bites; one Little Debbie Zebra Cake, for example, contains 17 grams of fat, 380 calories, and 37 grams of sugar.
If it’s not obvious by now, you should be wary of the processed baked goods in the snack aisle, be they cakes, pies, cookies, or pastries. Toaster pastries, like Pop-Tarts, don’t make for a well-balanced breakfast, and they’re certainly not a healthy snack. They’re basically just a sugar-filled, sugar-frosted crust of enriched flour and soybean oil, and because they come two to a pack it’s just about impossible to stop at one. Two frosted cherry Pop-Tarts, for example, contain 400 calories, 10 grams of fat, and 36 grams of sugar. If you want a meal that satisfies, ditch the Pop-Tarts and try one of these on-the-go breakfasts instead.
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