Why I'm Swapping Out Even My "Healthy" Snacks
Posted 05/29/12 at 02:01PM by Audrey Fine
In recent years my shopping cart has been (almost completely) devoid of such offending nutritional disasters as white pasta, white rice, russet potatoes, iceberg lettuce, most kinds of chips (sniff), a good number of cookie options for my kids, ice cream, and any "prepared" or frozen meal.
Replacing those former staples in my kitchen are things like couscous, tabouleh, brown/wild rice, yogurt, hummus, pretzels, granola, banana chips, and other picks my teenage self never thought I'd be putting in my mouth -- much less in my pantry.
Here's the kicker: Despite my valiant attempts to step away from the Doritos and Red Bull and turning a cold shoulder on fettuccine alfredo and Mike & Ikes, my new healthy eating alternatives have turned out to be less nourishing and beneficial than they were purported to be. D'oh!
Take, for example, the banana chips. Most of those suckers are fried. FRIED! So, despite the fact that they're (ostensibly) fruit, they can pack as many calories as potato chips but with much more sugar! Pretzels? Sure, they're low in fat but a 1 oz. serving can top out at as much as 500 mg of sodium -- more than 30 percent of the American Heart Association's recommended daily intake.
There's more: The "regular" yogurt we grew up on has gone painfully out of style since a typical small container could tip the sugar scales at a shocking six teaspoons-full. What do experts recommend we sub it with? Plain old Greek yogurt topped with fresh fruit. (Not exactly as easy to tote to work in your purse.)
Oh yeah, and don't even get me started on hummus or granola; suffice to say that you're better off eating Froot Loops. OK, not really, but both of those tree-hugger favorites contain hidden doses of fat and sugar respectively.
What does this all mean? Only that some seemingly "healthy" foods may not be as good for you or nutritionally sound as they appear at first glance. The fix? Make sure to read all labels, being sure to check for hidden bad guys like fats, sugars (I'm talking to you, Mr. high fructose corn syrup), and salts.
Have you had a rude food awakening? What did you uncover?
Our Expert Guides