Many foods sound healthier than they really are. You can avoid being fooled by "health halos" if you know what to look for. Here are some of the worst offenders for "healthy" foods that really aren't.
Granola sounds healthy. But it’s often high in fat, sugar, carbs and calories. Don’t be fooled by a seemingly reasonable calorie count; portion sizes are usually a skimpy 1/4 or 1/2 cup. Low-fat versions often just swap sugar for fat and pack as many calories as regular versions.
Tip: Read granola labels carefully and stick with recommended portion sizes (which are teeny), perhaps as a topping on fruit or yogurt.
Salads trip up many well-intentioned eaters. Most of us could use more vegetables—so what’s not to love? In a word: toppings. Add a generous sprinkling of pecans and Gorgonzola cheese to an apple-chicken salad, and its calorie and fat counts zoom into double-cheeseburger territory.
Tip: Before ordering a salad at a restaurant, check its nutrition information plus that of the dressing and all add-ons (often, they’re listed separately). If information is not available, stick with vegetables and a reasonable portion of a lean protein, like chicken. Limit high-calorie toppings like cheese and nuts to a couple of teaspoons. Order dressing on the side.
Smoothies may seem like a tasty way to help get your recommended fruit servings—but that drink may not be as satisfying as solid foods. Plus, added sugars can make some smoothies the equivalent of drinking fruit pie filling.
Tip: Some smoothies pack as many calories as a milkshake. Look for those made with whole fruit, low-fat yogurt and no added sugars.
Yogurt is a great way to meet your calcium needs, but not all are created equal. Some premium whole-milk yogurts can give you a hefty dose of saturated fat. Shop around: many low-fat versions of these products are every bit as creamy. Enjoy a fruit-flavored low-fat yogurt, but understand that the "fruit" is really jam (i.e., mostly sugar). Or opt for low-fat plain and stir in fresh fruit to suit your taste. Sugar-free yogurts may be a good choice, too.
Tip: Although they are still good sources of calcium, some yogurts can be closer to dessert than to a healthy snack. Don’t let fat and added sugars spoil a good thing.
There are a wide variety of sushi rolls out there. Fried tidbits and mayonnaise can add calories quickly, along with grams of fat—and all of that rice can add up to significant calories and carbs.
Tip: Signature sushi rolls often come with a creamy "special sauce;" always ask what’s in it. Or just order something simple: for example, a California roll (imitation crabmeat, avocado and cucumber) or a vegetarian roll with cucumbers, carrots and avocado.