You work hard for your money—so don’t go spending it on foods that are trying to fool you, masquerading like they’re healthy while filling you with sugar and other ingredients you had no idea were in there. The next grocery trip, buy smart so you can eat smarter. Here are five foods to reconsider:
Why it sounds healthy: Everyone wants more energy and these offer it through a mix of protein and fiber.
Why it isn’t: Many energy bars contain about 350 calories and may have as much sugar as a candy bar. Grab handfuls of nuts, stay hydrated with water and eat an apple instead.
Frozen veggie burgers
Why it sounds healthy: Duh, veggies!
Why it isn’t: A veggie is not a vegetable—it’s a cute word that some companies use to describe burgers that are made with processed soy or textured vegetable protein, which can be high in sodium. Instead look for brands made with beans, seeds or actually vegetables. “If you want to have fake meat, I get it,” says Dennis. “But there are many other options out there, like getting your protein from different plants.”
Why it sounds healthy: Cashews, peanuts and almonds are good for your heart, protein intake and weight management. Win, win, win!
Why it isn’t: Too many brands sold at supermarkets are packed with sugar and trans fats. So keep the nut butter in your life, but lose the unhealthy brands. Only buy ones that have one or two ingredients (the nut being the first listed)—or grind your own at markets that have machines. “Less is more,” is the motto of Benjamin “BJ” Davis, a Charleston-based private chef, caterer and deep believer in how the best foods are simple ones. Less ingredients equal more health benefits.
Why it’s healthy: Any day started with a bowl of whole-grain energy is probably going to be a better day than one that began with, say, cold pizza leftovers.
Why it isn’t: Like nut butters, oatmeal is healthy. But not if you’re eating many instant ones. Just adding water is easy, but those packets contain a lot of sugar and not a lot of fiber or protein. If you don’t have time to make old-fashioned oats, find an instant brand that has no added sugar.
Why it’s healthy: Fruit, kale, protein, vitamin c and so many other things you want—but don’t want to buy individually, clean, chop, juice and disassemble your juicer for each time.
Why it isn’t: Next time you come down from the smug euphoria of getting all that fruit and greens in something you didn’t have to do anything but twist cap open, check out the calories per serving: it can be as high as 1000 calories in some popular brands. The culprits are added sugars and syrups. Some don’t even contain juice, but juice concentrate. Instead, leave 10 minutes extra in the morning to juice your own or start eating fruit.