Healthy Eating: 4 unhealthy ‘health’ treats

Many healthy sounding sweet treats, such as frozen yogurt and banana bread, are not as healthy as they seem.

By KATHRYN RUBIN
August 15, 2012 13:45
3 minute read.
Oatmeal muffin

Oatmeal muffin. (photo credit: Dan Levy)

Ever in the mood for a sweet bite to eat, but don’t want to pack on the calories? Many would opt for frozen yogurt instead of ice cream, or maybe a bran muffin instead of a red velvet cupcake. They sound much healthier right? And they are; however, just because they contain fewer calories and fat doesn’t mean you are getting off lightly.

Many foods today have an aura of healthiness with the use of nutritious sounding names and wholesome ingredients highlighted in bold. And while these options are without doubt a better choice, they still contain more calories, sugar and fat that most of us assume. 

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Here are four of the worst unhealthy “health” treats:

Frozen yogurt



In the summer heat, it can be very tempting to finish the day with a visit to a favorite frozen yogurt joint. In the last few years, “froyo” shops have popped up virtually everywhere, offering a variety of different yogurt flavors with an assortment of toppings.

Without doubt, frozen yogurt is a tasty treat, but is it a healthy one? After all, it’s just frozen yogurt, so can it really be that unhealthy? Yes and no.

Let’s start with the good news: Just like regular yogurt, the frozen version contains active cultures that are great for digestion and boost immunity.

Now for that not so great news: Frozen yogurt is generally loaded with sugar, especially the flavored ones.

However, that’s far from all. Frozen yogurt can quickly go from being “okay,” to atrociously bad, when people start piling on butterscotch syrup, sweet candy and of course pieces of chocolate bars. What’s more, most of us don’t even realize how much candy, chocolate and hot sauce has been added as it quickly mixes up with the yogurt and fruit toppings.

Most small frozen yogurts topped off with a scoop of cookies and a dollop of hot chocolate sauce can easily reach 300-400 calories per serving. To bring the calorie back down, opt for regular plain yogurt topped off with fresh berries.

Dried fruit



What could be so wrong with a handful or two of dried cranberries, prunes, raisins or apricots? After all, dried fruit is still fruit, and therefore is loaded with all sorts of “good for you” nutrients including fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Unfortunately many companies add sulfur and sugar to make dried fruits better for store shelves. What’s more, when you eat dry fruit, as it is significantly smaller than fresh fruit, you tend to lose track of how much you are actually eating, and as a result consume more calories, and sugar than you think. So while dried fruit can be nice once in a while, it is far more filling and less fattening to eat fresh fruit on a daily basis.

Bran Muffins



The word bran typically has a healthy connotation as it is packed with fiber goodness. The fiber from these muffins will fill you up more than your regular carrot, blueberry or chocolate chip muffin. However, a healthy muffin is still an oxymoron.

Even with all the fiber, bran muffins are still made from mounds of butter and sugar – leaving them high in fat, sugar and of course hundreds of calories. In fact, depending on how large it is, a bran muffin can have anywhere from 200 to 400 calories. 

Banana Bread



Just like bran muffins, banana bread has the illusion of being healthy. After all, any “bread” made from omega-3 rich nuts and vitamin-loaded bananas should be healthy, right?

Unfortunately, the generous amounts of butter and sugar that make this loaf taste so moist and delicious, make it regrettably somewhat fattening.

When it comes to store-bought banana bread, it’s important to check the ingredients, as not all banana bread is made the same. For most varieties, lavish amounts of butter, oil, refined sugar and flour as well as full-fat yogurt or sour cream crank up the calorie count without adding any solid nutrition.

In order to trim down the calories, it’s probably best to make this tasty treat at home in order to increase the amount of healthier ingredients while toning down or even substituting those more calorie hefty and nutritionally depleted ingredients for healthier ones.


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