6 Misleading Foods That Seem Healthy But Actually Aren’t at All

by | Aug 8, 2018 | Debunking Myths, Healthy Weight, Nutrition, Nutrition Facts | 0 comments

Inside Scoop: We all want to eat healthy, but in order to do that we need to know which foods are actually good for us. Check out these 6 misleading foods that might not be as healthy as we previously believed.

This post was submitted by Holly Klamer, registered dietitian with a MS degree in nutrition and exercise science.

Eating healthy is one of the most proactive, essential steps to improving your overall health and your life.

As more people are trying to make this positive change in their lives, the health food market is brimming with more selection. We all want to make the best choices, but we are constantly bombarded with bold marketing claims that can get kind of confusing.

Recent research by independent nutritionists shows the increasing level of deception by the food industry including misleading “studies” by companies including General Mills and Coca-Cola, is actually putting our health at risk.

It is a scary thought, but all the more reason to use your better judgement to try and avoid those misleading foods.

In many cases, some of the foods that most of us have always associated with good health are now being revealed as some of the worst offenders.

Rather than paying heed to the assertions painted all over your food products, the best thing everyone can do is to read the nutrition labels. Educating yourself on what science proves is nutritious is always a much safer bet than what the marketers might proclaim.

Let’s take a look at six examples of some of the most surprisingly unhealthy “health foods” out there today.




Bread overall gets a bad rap, so more options have sprung up to appeal to healthy eaters. The seemingly smart choice is multigrain bread. Again, the importance of reading food labels cannot be overstated.

As wonderful as grains may be, they lose so many nutrients and fiber through over-processing.

Bread is one of the most prominent examples of processing otherwise healthy ingredients to make something else entirely, with a very different nutrient profile.

Even bread selections that are labeled as multigrain hold their secrets in the fine print. Always check to make sure that they contain whole grains, rather than processed or refined.

Once these grains undergo refinement, they lose most of the fiber and nutrients that make them so healthy. It really makes them no better than plain white bread. You can read more about choosing the best breads to buy here.



One of the snack staples in the back packs of outdoor enthusiasts everywhere, granola is always touted as a healthy choice. In truth, the vast majority of options are packed with sugar, calories, and artificial ingredients.

Just one cup of granola, less than most of us would put in our bowls every morning, can contain up to 600 calories and 30 grams of added sugar.

Dietitian Cassi Bjork told The New York Times that when she thinks of granola, she thinks piles of sugar. The article further pointed out that by dietary guidelines, granola should be considered a dessert.

What’s more, even though oats are often listed as one of the main ingredients, a sprinkling of oats stuck together with syrup in your granola will not contain all the heart and diet-friendly fiber or protein that pure oats provide.

Like many breads, they are over-processed and contain a bunch of unhealthy fillers, including another surprisingly unhealthy choice on our list – dried fruit.


Fruit is one of the healthiest foods you can add to your diet. Most fruits are low in calories yet full of nutrients, power-packed with the vitamins, minerals, and fiber that your body needs.

Although notably more convenient, dried fruit is simply not even in the same class as fresh fruit.

If you are eating naturally preserved dried fruit once in a while or adding some dates to your desserts or in baking is totally ok. But, dried fruit is one of the most misleading foods out there.

Most dried fruit packs sold in the market use preservatives as well as a massive amount of added sugar, which ca be detrimental to your body and can pack on pounds fast.

Just one serving of dried fruit has more sugar than most candy. One cup of dried pineapple, for example, contains a whopping 100 grams of sugar. This is about as much as 3 large Lindt 70% dark chocolate bars.

The worst part is that dried fruit just does not satisfy in the same way as fresh fruit. It’s way too easy to overdo it on the sweet, easy-to-grab little treats, so portion control is a serious issue.

We have all known for a while now that sugar is unhealthy, but only recently has science begun to truly unveil just how dangerous too much sugar can be. When you are scanning your labels, always check for sugar content per serving.



Yogurt is hailed by many as a miracle food. Packed with protein, it is smooth, sweet, and satisfying to the taste buds. Best of all, it is filled with wonderful digestion-boosting probiotics.

Unfortunately, one of the things that makes it so delicious is the dreaded added sugar.

Fruit-flavored yogurt rarely contains fruit, or only negligible amounts of it. What it does contain is plenty of sweeteners and artificial flavors, which really negate all the health benefits.

The healthiest way to enjoy yogurt is to choose high protein, Greek yogurt, preferably plain. Add your own flavor with fresh fruits or a touch of honey to minimize sugar intake.

If you’re looking for more healthiest swaps, make sure to download this printable Healthy Swaps Food List below.


So many people love the idea of combining all their nutrition needs within a convenient, grab-and-go smoothie. There has been a boom in the smoothie market in recent years, with nearly every beverage company jumping on the bandwagon to meet the demands of health-conscious consumers.

The problem is that the shelves are lined with high-calorie, high-sugar, low-nutrient options that defeat the entire point.

Even the ever-popular smoothie stores use a base of high-sugar, low nutrient fruit juices. Fruit juice in itself is another sugar demon in disguise.

Your best bet is to make your own smoothies at home with fresh ingredients. Learn how to build the best smoothie ever here.



Of all the surprisingly unhealthy foods, this one may be most shocking. It’s important to highlight that we are referring only to fat-free or reduced fat varieties. Peanut butter is still one of the most-loved superfoods of nutritionists everywhere.

Registered dietitian and clinical professor in the department of nutrition and food studies at New York University Lisa Sasson spoke with Time magazine to explain the discrepancy: not all peanut butters are created equal.

One of the best things about peanut butter is that it is high in healthy, mono-unsaturated fats that hold a myriad of health benefits.

The American Heart Association has found that these even reduce the risk of death from heart disease and many other conditions.

Sasson advises to skip any jars that say “low fat,” as these contain the same amount of calories and sugar but lack all those amazing nut-based fats.

Some companies may even sneak in more sugar, salt, or artificial additives to make up for the loss of flavor, adding insult to injury.


The Takeaway

We should all be taking positive steps to eat healthy. Any investment into our health is an investment into improving our lives and our futures.

Sadly, we really can’t rely on the money-making marketing schemes of food corporations. Luckily, science is paying closer attention to providing us with accurate, fact-based assessments of what foods will benefit – and harm – our health goals.

The most important thing we can all do is take the time to learn more about ingredients and always read food labels. Remember that you are your own best health advocate!

Don’t forget to download the most delicious healthy food swaps below.

Holly Klamer

Holly is the chief health editor at Calorie Secrets. She is a registered dietitian with a MS degree in nutrition and exercise science. She teaches nutrition at 2 colleges in Denver and has her own nutrition consulting business.

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