When it comes to food, “healthy” is relative. A food that gives you just the right amount of one nutrient may give you too much of another. Our bodies require a balance and react according to the ratios between each nutrient– not just how “much” or how “little” we may have of one in particular.
For that reason, a lot of foods that are marketed as “healthy” actually have several negative effects that outweigh the few good ones. Here are seven such foods, chosen by Today Health, that it’s better to avoid:
1. Pretzels – It’s true that pretzels are low in fat, but they don’t offer much else. Other than that, they’re basically processed carbs that are high in sodium.
2. Splenda (and other artificial sweeteners) – While sugar substitutes have less calories than real sugar, they actually make you crave sweets even more. Your body thinks it’s getting calories, but it’s not, so it makes you want to compensate for it. In most cases, this actually leads to weight gain.
3. High-fiber cereals with sugar – High-fiber cereals can help prevent heart disease, but the sugar content counteracts that benefit by raising your blood sugar considerably.
Alternative: Shredded Wheat, no sugar
4. Diet soda – This one acts similarly to artificial sweeteners, because that’s what diet soda is loaded with. It also can raise your risk of vascular problems.
Alternative: Good old water!
5. Frozen yogurt – A big part of what makes yogurt so healthy is the bacteria that help the digestive and immune systems. However, many frozen yogurts don’t have these. From there, when you compare the fat, calorie, and sugar content, frozen yogurt isn’t much better than ice cream.
Alternative: You might as well go with ice cream, at that point.
6. Veggie chips – After all the processing that goes into most veggie chips, the vegetables’ original vitamin content is lost. Many of them actually have the same amount of sodium as potato chips!
Alternative: Make your own veggie chips!
7. Turkey burgers – Many of the turkey burgers made in restaurants are comprised of the fatty dark meat and skin, not making it much better than a regular hamburger.
Alternative: Make your own turkey burger out of lean turkey.
Remember: some of these options are slightly better than the options they are supposed to substitute, but that isn’t saying much. Is it really worth choosing between the lesser of two evils when there are much better options?