10 Foods That Sound Healthy (but Aren't)
Salad, bran muffins, fat-free foods―they're good for you, right? Not always. Nutrition expert Katherine Brooking, MS, RD, reveals surprisingly unhealthy foods, plus better-for-you alternatives.
Reduced-fat peanut butter is not necessarily a healthier version of regular peanut butter. Read the labels to see why. Both regular and reduced-fat peanut butter contain about the same amount of calories, but the reduced-fat variety has more sugar. But isn't it healthy to reduce some fat? Not in this case. Regular peanut butter is a natural source of the "good" monounsaturated fats. Look for a natural peanut butter with an ingredient list that contains no added oils. Better yet, find a store where you can grind your own, or make your own nut butters at home.
- See more: Our Peanut Butter Taste Test
Energy bars are the perfect pre-workout snack, right? Not always. Many energy bars are filled with high fructose corn syrup, added sugar, and artery-clogging saturated fat. Plus, some bars (particularly meal replacement varieties) contain more than 350 calories each―a bit more than "snack size" for most people. It is a good idea to fuel up with a mix of high quality carbs and protein before an extended workout or hike. Choose wisely: one-quarter cup of trail mix, or 1.5 oz. of low-fat cheese and three to four small whole-grain crackers. Or, make your own healthy granola bars and trail mix with these recipes.
- Not all energy bars are bad for you; see our top picks for the best energy bars.
A smoothie can be a great way to start the day or to refuel after a workout. Just remember to account for the calories you drink when considering what you've consumed in a day. For the most economical and healthy smoothies, consider making your own. This delicious Blackberry-Peach Smoothie with Walnuts is packed with healthy ingredients and contains just 240 calories per serving.
About the author: Cooking Light contributor Katherine Brooking is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition education from Columbia University.