Which foods look healthy but really aren't?

Here are some foods that dress up as healthy but should really only be consumed in small quantities.

Smoothie (photo credit: Courtesy)
Smoothie
(photo credit: Courtesy)

Purim has arrived, and it turns out that not only do humans dress up, but foods do too, only they do it daily, and can cause long-term health damage through increased calorie intake, sugar, fats and sodium.

Forget what you think: Not every dish that includes vegetables or nuts — or one that athletes eat or drink — is necessarily healthy. Here are some well-known foods that are considered to be healthy and nutritious, but in practice contain too many calories and unhealthy ingredients.

Sushi

Despite the image of sushi as healthy and diet-friendly, its list of ingredients presents a different picture. Your average sushi roll will contain too much rice, which has a high caloric content and very little fiber, vitamins and minerals. It also contains a small amount of fish, vegetables and seaweed which are low in calories and have many nutrients.

In other words, the ingredients in sushi are of high quality, but the ratio between them isn’t correct, so any roll may get in the way of healthy, balanced eating. An average maki roll with rice, fish and one vegetable (besides avocado which is considered a healthy fat) will contain between 200 and 400 calories, 40-50 grams of carbohydrates and 5-8 grams of protein.

Sushi roll with chopsticks (Illustrative) (credit: INGIMAGE)Sushi roll with chopsticks (Illustrative) (credit: INGIMAGE)

This doesn't even take into account the soy sauce, teriyaki and spicy mayonnaise that increase the caloric value of the dish as well as the amount of sodium.

Fruit juice

Fruit juices tend to contain very large amounts of sugar. Just reading the list of food ingredients written in descending order according to the amount of each in the product will indicate that, in many drinks, sugar is the second ingredient after water before the fruit concentrates — if there even is any fruit.

Recently, there have been changes made to various juices that led to a reduction in harmful ingredients, such as preservatives and food coloring.

Our advice? Try to choose juice without preservatives and food coloring or drinks containing only natural food coloring. And, best of all — squeeze the juice yourself, or eat it whole — this is how you consume the dietary fiber.

Coconut Oil

The excellent PR that coconut oil has recently enjoyed has led 72% of the public to believe it’s healthy, while 37% of nutritionists agree with this statement, according to a US survey.

In recent years, coconut oil may have been crowned as the ultimate healthy alternative to various types of fats and oils, but the American Heart Association says these claims are misleading.

Coconut oil contains 82% saturated fat, which is significantly higher than what you find in olive oil (14%) and even butter (63%). Saturated fats can increase bad cholesterol levels in the body and a link has been found between their consumption and the chances of developing heart disease.

Granola

A recent New York Times survey found that 70% of the public thinks granola and granola bars are healthy, but only 28% of nutritionists agree. No surprise here, as most commercially-sold granola contains a large amount of sugar. One serving of granola contains a lot of calories and carbohydrates and is low in protein.

Although granola is rich in fiber and its variety of nuts contain heart-healthy fats, with the large sugar content, our advice is to eat very little or make your own.

Dried fruit

Dried fruits aren’t harmful to health and sometimes they even contain more fiber and antioxidants per gram compared to fresh versions. But they actually have more sugar and calories per gram of fruit. And, people have a tendency to eat a much larger amount of dried fruit than fresh.

Also, most dried fruits are required to undergo "artificial treatment" with high temperatures and preservatives, such as sulfur dioxide, to improve color, prevent oxidation and spoilage, and extend their shelf life.

Some dried fruits also include additional oils, glazing ingredients (to create a shiny look) and artificial food colors, which can cause a harmful reaction in sensitive people and children.

Protein drinks

Protein drinks are very popular among athletes, due to the promise that the protein supplement present in the drink will improve performance and appearance due to the increase in body muscle mass.

For most people who train to improve their physical fitness, the recommended amount is about 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body mass at an ideal weight, and usually, the protein needed for the body's needs can be obtained through food only, without the need for protein supplements.