Healthy Eating: 6 deceiving ‘health’ foods

Find out which foods and drinks have more calories, fat and sugar than you counted on.

Super Sushi (photo credit: Courtesy)
Super Sushi
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Many foods are advertised as being low in calories and fat, and they certainly taste like they are healthy too; but are they really good for you? There are countless foods and beverages found on grocery store shelves or served in restaurants that have an aura of being healthy, low fat and low in calories, but unfortunately they are sadly not. These foods easily deceive us, and make us believe that we are consuming fewer calories than we thought, when in fact they are loaded with unsaturated fats, sugar, and other calorie-laden ingredients.
So as the summer gets underway, and more of us are hitting the beach or the pool, here are six unexpected foods that could easily be causing you to pack on the pounds.
1. Sushi
Sushi may seem like the perfect light, low calorie meal when you are trying to drop a few pounds, right? What could possibly make it fattening when it contains raw fish, veggies, seaweed and only a little bit of rice?
Beware, these bite-size pieces can be deceptively loaded with mayo, cream cheese and tempura batter, pushing the calorie count of a single roll into the 500 to 600 range. If that wasn’t bad enough, the sauces that we dip our favorite rolls into are not so innocent when it comes to our waistline.
Soya sauce, while a must have when eating sushi, is loaded with sodium, causing us to retain water and feel somewhat bloated the next day. Teriyaki sauce, on the other hand, may not taste salty but it is also contains a lot of salt. At the same time, it's loaded with sugar, hence its sweet taste, causing it to be extremely high in calories and causing us to eat more than we think.
2. Tofu
Tofu, another Asian restaurant favorite, can be a very healthy, low fat dish; however, it doesn’t stay that way after most chefs gets theirs hands on it. Tofu naturally has a very bland plain flavor, so do you ever wonder why it tastes so scrumptiously delicious at most restaurants? Most likely, it has been deep-fried and then doused in decadent sauces to give it its sweet flavor and crunchy texture; unfortunately though this process sends the calorie, fat and sugar content far above what you would ever have guessed. 
3. Salads
Salad may seem like an odd addition to this list, as after all how many calories and how much fat can really be lurking inside a pile of lettuce? Unfortunately most salads at restaurants don’t just consist of shredded carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, onions, and tomatoes. Most likely you will find nuts, cheese, croutons, and of course creamy dressing. Most of us know that cheeses are high in fat, particularly the saturated kind, but very few of us actually realize how much cheese, and hence extra fat, lands in our salad.
Now not all fat in salads is evil; avocados, nuts and olive oil are rich in heart-healthy unsaturated fats. However, just because these foods are good for your heart, doesn’t mean they are great for your waistline. They are all still quite high in calories, and while they make you feel fuller longer, it’s important to watch out what is being added into your salad.
The top salad sinners include Ceaser salad, Cobb salad and even chopped salad when it’s topped off with blue cheese and ranch dressing. Instead, stick to salads with low-fat (not fried) meats, lower fat cheeses, and fresh fruit in the place of dried fruit.
4. Granola
Loaded with healthy nuts and oats, what’s not to love? However, granola contains many hidden ingredients. The breakfast favorite gets a tasty twist from added oil and sugar, which certainly make it delicious, but unfortunately like many tasty food, high in calories. In fact, one bowl contains around 500 to 600 hundred calories, which is almost three times the amount of calories found in the most sugary breakfast cereals available. Make sure you read the box carefully, and watch out for added dried fruit and even honey as this can push the sugar content through the roof.

5. Bottled green tea
Green tea is definitely a super food – filled with antioxidants, it lends your body a healthy hand from head to toe. However, bottled green tea is unfortunately not nearly as “sweet” for your health as most of them contain only a tiny amount of these healthy compounds. In fact, scientists have found that you have to drink about 20 bottles of bottled green tea to get the same benefits of consuming one mug of real green tea.
Why is that? Green tea gets its amazing health powers from its polyphenols. These polyphenols, however, are also what give green tea its astringent flavor. Most of us don’t particularly like this taste, which is why many of us dilute our tea by adding milk, sugar, and let it steep in hot water much longer than we should. When it comes to bottled green tea, many mass producers minimize this powerful flavor by simply adding less tea, and thus reducing the amount of health beneficial contents, as well as pouring in sugar.
6. Juices and Smoothies
Last, but certainly not least (in calories), juices and smoothies are some of the biggest culprits when it comes to unhealthy “health” foods. Fresh fruits are excellent for your body as they are without doubt loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and fiber. While many fruit juices contain a lot of the vitamins of the fruit (Vitamin C in particular), they are loaded with sugar.
Now, some fruit juices are labeled with “natural” sugar i.e. it’s the sugar from the fruit; however, to our bodies sugar is sugar. Moreover, fruit juices do not contain the skin of the fruit, and thus lose out on the fruit’s fiber, and some vitamins.  Even vegetable juice suffers at the hand of mass producers.
Products like V8 and tomato juice are made with real vegetables, and thus are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber; but unfortunately these savory drinks are also loaded with sodium.
Smoothies of course are the ultimate culprits. They are typically made from real fruits; however, they are mixed in with juices and added sugar. To make matters worse, some smoothies are made with full-fat yogurt or even ice cream which may give a creamy texture but it also ramps up the fat and calorie count without you even realizing it.