By now, it’s been hammered into our brains which foods are healthy and which foods we should keep out of our shopping carts. But it can still be pretty confusing. From media, marketing, and word of mouth, we’re constantly sifting through contradictory information regarding “healthy foods,” meaning our favorite snack could wind up being a bad match for our dietary needs.
Food from the health food section of the grocery store or ones boasting all natural ingredients on the packaging doesn’t prove squat. So, before you plan out your next meal, make sure you know the foods that could actually be dangerous for your diet.
If it grows from the earth it’s gotta be a healthy choice, right? Not always. Stone fruits in particular are packed with sugar. Bananas and melons, those are also on the higher end of the fructose-serving scale.
Don’t worry! There are less sugary fruits out there to sink your teeth into. Toss back a handful of blueberries to fulfill your cravings. Strawberries and raspberries are safe bets, too. Granny Smith apples are another low-fructose option.
Stop reaching for prepared fruit juices in lieu of your breakfast. Aside from steep prices, just one of these juices wipes out your entire recommended daily sugar intake. Also, since they’re made from fruit juices as apposed to whole blended fruits, they have no fiber.
Prepacked trail mix is another pretender. The process of drying fruit amps up the sugar content of an already relatively sugar-high food. Really, the only worthwhile snack in the bag are the mixed nuts, and every rational person pushes past them to eat chocolate.
Mixed nuts are high in calories, which really defeats the point of a trail mix as an at-home snack. Luckily, you can make your own to ensure each handful is a delicious, yet guilt free. Use sunflower seeds, unsweetened coconut, walnuts, soy nuts, and roasted peanuts.
Combine butter, Parmesan, and heavy cream and what do you get? The delicious stupor -nducing treat that is Alfredo. Adding this sinister sauce to pasta is a recipe for a meal heavy in carbs and fat that can spike glucose levels.
So, flip your pasta party into something considerate of diet restrictions. Whole wheat pasta cuts down on carbs, while adding a boost of fiber. Slather those noodles in a traditional tomato sauce. Store bought works, but control the sugar intake by cooking your own from scratch.
Children’s Hospital of Orange County
White rice is one of those pesky foods with a high glycemic index, meaning the carbs convert to sugar in the body super quickly. Really, it’s not all bad. White rice increases folic acid, which aids in producing new cells. It’s just not an ideal mainstay for a diabetic’s diet.
Sub in the next best thing — brown rice. It’s doubly rich in vitamins and minerals, that are stripped in the process of refining the grain in white rice. That process also cuts out tons of fiber. Stick with the brown rice, and while we’re talking brown stuff…
That coffee? It’s not “coffee.” All the benefits of the caffeine boost are muddled with sugary syrups, high-fat milks, and oodles of whipped cream. Consider these on par with milkshakes. It’s possible to cut down on the sugar content, just ask for low fat milk and half the syrup pumps.
Microwaveable meals are a lunchtime staple. Even though the box claims to be “lean” or “healthy,” flip it over and read the nutrition facts. A rule of thumb is to avoid frozen meals that are over 500 calories and 30% or more of those are from fat.
The best way to start your day is without sugary breakfast cereals and surprisingly — oatmeal. Prepacked oatmeal contains a lot of sugar, with added flavors and sweeteners, that spike glucose levels in the blood. Opt for old school oatmeal. The real stuff.
You know those people that drink a glass full of raw eggs? Well, you don’t have to do that, but they’ve got the right idea. Protein heavy breakfasts — better yet, egg white breakfasts — are a safe bet for those with dietary restrictions.
My bologna has a first name, it’s S-O-D-I-U-M. That’s not what Oscar Meyer intended, but nevertheless, it’s true. Processed meats are loaded with salt, and that can put you at increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.
We’re ruining all your childhood favorites, including white bread. Like it’s cousin white rice, white bread is part of the refined carbohydrate family. It digests rapidly, spiking blood glucose levels. Made from refined white flour, all the good bits, fiber, and nutrients are stripped away.
Cover your ears Leslie Knope: Waffles and their nemesis, the pancake, should be consumed in moderation. They fall under the refined carbohydrate category, from the white flour, and that’s without any toppings. The temptation of sugary saturated fats like butter and syrup don’t require explanation.
What’s the difference between a cucumber and a pickle? If you guessed, spoonfuls of salt, you’re correct. The satisfying crunch of a deli pickle is one of life’s greatest treasures. It’s a sound best enjoyed in moderation, as the sodium content increases blood pressure.
Another faker when it comes to health? Granola bars. Boasting flavors that sound like a mouth-watering, intricate dessert probably means they contain a substantial amount of sugar. Read the fine print to monitor if the carbs and sugars are worth the snack.
With names that sound like they’re fuel for gas guzzling vehicles, energy drinks shockingly are extremely unhealthy. You might be surprised to learn they’re also packed with carbs. Not a great option for a diabetic, or those with anxiety or insomnia.
So what can you eat? Well, tumeric has been used as a medicinal and nutritional spice for centuries in other corners of the globe because it contains a compound called curcumin, which helps stop your heart from getting enlarged.
Don’t eat it straight out of the ocean or off your dog’s head, but do enjoy some properly prepared seaweed. It’s a rich source of iodine and can help prevent your blood from clotting and your arteries from hardening.
Snowmen love them, and so should you. Carrots are filled with vitamins A, K, and C and their own antioxidant called carotenoids. Carrots prevent heart disease and also improve your vision! Best of all, you can also just snack on them raw. Yum!
Beets have a unique ability to lower the levels of homocysteine in your blood, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease and strengthen your organs. They taste great with a little goat cheese!
Pomegranates may look a little funny on the inside, and eating them takes some getting used to, but they’re bursting with vitamins and antioxidants that help prevent strokes, diabetes, and even Alzheimers!
When you skip the double shot decaf pumpkin spice frappe-cappu with extra whipped cream, coffee is pretty healthy for you — in moderation. It can reduce your chances of heart failure and heart disease. Too much of it, though, can raise your blood pressure.
Yes, most of us hated having to eat broccoli when we were young, but it’s actually very beneficial to your health! It can reduce cholesterol, and it contains sulforaphane, which balances your blood sugar levels.
Believe it or not, chocolate is good for you, but it all depends on how you consume it! The darker the chocolate, the better, because milk and sugar — which you’ll find plenty of in lighter chocolates — aren’t great for your body.
Surprise, surprise! Red wine isn’t all bad for you! Red vino can reduce built-up cholesterol and keep your blood vessels flexible, which will reduce blood clots. However, the limit is one glass a day.
Lentils are a wonderful option for vegetarians and gluten-free folks alike. They’re packed with protein but are low in calories, plus they taste great in salads and lentil soup!
While they used to be sold as the fur for pet-shaped planters, nutritionists have since found a better use for chia seeds: juices, bowls, salads, you name it! They are an incredible source of fiber, antioxidants, omega-3s, and protein.
You either love or hate this bitter fruit, but it’s definitely good for you: Grapefruits are loaded with fiber and potassium, as well as heart-happy things like lycopene and choline. Plus when you’re done eating, you can use the peel to make a helmet for your cat.
Eat some asparagus for vitamins A, C, E, and K, and many other minerals to promote regular digestion and decrease your risk of diabetes.
Like all other nuts, almonds contain protein, but on top of that, they also contain a long list of nutrients that improve memory and intelligence and reduce your risk of diabetes. If you combine these with some very dark chocolate, you’ll have a party in your mouth and get double health benefits.
Get ready to stink! Garlic is not only flavorful but it also helps lower plaque levels in your arteries to keep them from getting clogged. There are even garlic supplements you can buy. We should warn you though, this is not for vampires.
They’re a fun size, and they taste great in almost every sweet dish, but what most people don’t know is that blueberries lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of cancer.
It’s alright if you don’t know how to pronounce it, just make sure to eat some quinoa once in a while! It has more than twice as much fiber as you’ll find in other grains, and it also contains protein, minerals, and essential amino acids. Just swap it in for rice and pasta, and you’ll be doing yourself a favor.
There’s a good reason why people love ’em so much. Avocados add a nice, smooth, cool texture to rough foods like toast, salads, rice dishes, tacos, and of course as guac on some chips. They are filled with monounsaturated fats, a good kind of fat that helps hearts grow even stronger.
Of course they’re juicy, sweet, and refreshing, but oranges are so much more. They contain a fiber that absorbs cholesterol as well as potassium, which neutralizes proteins that could potentially cause heart failure.
The main problem with cranberries is that they are very rare, so most foods and drinks that claim to contain cranberries are actually just cranberry flavored. However, when you find the real stuff, you can enjoy their antioxidants.
Chickpeas can be eaten raw, boiled, pan-fried, mashed, and turned into some delicious hummus dip. They contain fiber, potassium, and vitamins C and B-6, and some protein. They’re incredibly healthy AND versatile!
What’s the tea? Much like broccoli, green tea can lower your cholesterol, and its antioxidants cleanse your body of unwanted chemicals. With a little honey mixed in, it can also be great on a sore throat.
Unless your evil stepmother witch queen has poisoned them, you should totally eat more apples! Like green tea, there are plenty of flavors to choose from, all loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and a little caffeine. Don’t you want to keep that doctor away?
Get your spoon out and prepare to eat some oatmeal! It’s a filling, energizing breakfast full of fiber. Try to steer clear of those super sugary oatmeals, though, and add different fruits — or even just a touch of honey — instead.
Surely you’ve heard all the rage about kale, as it can be found in nearly every salad, smoothie, and pasta or rice dishes nowadays — and for good reason: it’s loaded with fiber, antioxidants, and (the good) omega-3 fatty acids. It’s a solid leafy green that helps prevent heart disease, so go ahead and jump on the kale train.
The only time some people consume eggplant is in an eggplant parm, and we’re sorry to say loads of cheese, bread crust, and marinara sauce in that won’t save you — but other eggplant dishes will. Enjoy the vitamins, minerals, and flavonoids (metabolites that help cell-signaling pathways and antioxidant effects).
27. Salmon: Don’t go crazy with eating fish, since you could get mercury poisoning or high cholesterol, but a balanced amount of fish, especially salmon, is excellent for your health. It’s packed with good omega-3 fatty acids, which can fight off blood clots, heart disease, and even dementia.
You don’t NEED this in your diet, so don’t worry if you’re vegetarian, but for meat-eaters, chicken is one of the healthiest ways to go. It’s a lean protein that matches well with almost every dish, so it’s easy to eat.
Remember that some oils and fats are good for you! Extra-virgin is a healthier alternative to cooking with butter or animal fat, and it will help balance your blood sugar and reduce harmful cholesterol.
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Popeye had it absolutely right — spinach is good for you and can make you strong since it’s packed with iron and vitamin K. You still need to exercise to be strong and healthy, but spinach will give you stronger bones, fewer blood clots, and lower the risk of heart disease.