The beginning of the new year is the time most of us take resolutions to improve our health, avoid harmful food, start working out and so on, with dietary changes being by far the most popular symbolic change for the better. However, many foods that are commonly believed to be wholesome are, in fact, nothing of the kind. Here are five foods that pretend to be healthy but should be avoided.

1. Banana and Plantain Chips

We all know that fried potato chips, overflowing with fat and salt, are not exactly the healthiest food around. Those who cannot resist the temptation of their alluring crunchiness often resort to their more wholesome-looking banana or plantain analogues, believing that they make a big step towards healthy eating. Unfortunately, fried chips remain fried chips, irrespectively of what they are made of: they are still high on fat, sugar and salt content.

2. Juices

People often believe that fruit juices they buy in supermarkets are a cheap and easy source of vitamins and nutrients, especially during cold winter months. In reality, they are worse than useless – for the simple reason that pre-packed liquids going under the name of juices have very little in common with the fruits they are supposed to be derived from. They don’t do you any good and may serve as one of the main reasons of weight gain, as their main ingredient is sugar. If you want to improve your health, you have to invest into a juicer and make your own juice from real fresh fruit.

3. Foods with “Fat-free” Label

“Fat-free” label is just yet another means of influencing healthy-conscious but not very savvy byers. “Fat-free” doesn’t mean calorie-free – what it means is that a food in question is often heavily processed and full of sugar (often in the form of notorious high fructose corn syrup) to compensate for the lack of taste caused by the elimination of fat content.

4. Gluten-free Pastas and Snacks

Again, the gluten scare tactic is often used by food manufacturers to attract those who want to eat healthier food but don’t want to learn anything about what they are eating. In reality, unless you have a medical reason for avoiding gluten, you would do better to stick to normal pasta or, better yet, not eating pasta and snacks at all. Gluten-free products often contain less nutrient-dense flours and fat instead of gluten, which means that you pay more for less nutritious yet fattier food.

5. Granola

What can be more innocuous than this mix of rolled oats, nuts, and dried fruit? A lot of things, as it turns out. It is alright if you prepare it yourself; but pre-packaged granola suffers from the same ailments as most processed foods: it often contains high amount of sugar to improve its taste, and a single bowl of this stuff may contain up to 500 calories – even without milk.

6. Dried Fruit

Another staple of all health-conscious foodies that turns out to be not all that beneficial under close scrutiny is dried fruit. Compared to fresh fruit they are made of, dried fruit such as apricots or plums contain a lot more sugar, tend to stick to the surfaces of teeth, get into spaces between them, and eventually may cause damage of tooth enamel and cavities. The general opinion among doctors is that you are much better off eating fresh fruit instead.

The best rule for those willing to improve their diet in the new year would be this: avoid pre-packaged and processed foods whenever possible, read nutrient labels carefully and pay attention to your health – every day!

Hope this list was useful for you. Good luck with your healthy diet!

Featured photo credit: Suco de frutas – Fruit juices/Roberto Guglielmo via flickr.com

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