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Foods That Can Fool You
13 Common Dietary Offenders

Foods That Can Fool You - 13 Common Dietary Offenders

Eating can be a truly delightful experience. Figuring out which foods are "good for you", on the other hand, is taxing to say the least. The biggest obstacle we face in this challenge isn't the evolving nutritional research, or even the countless diets that exist. The main problem lies within the food items themselves, particularly the foods that aren't necessarily what they appear to be.

The goal of this article is not to tell you what you should or shouldn't eat. There are far too many eating regimens, each limiting or exploiting a different nutritional component to do so. Instead, it is about uncovering the foods that either misrepresent themselves, or are somewhat misunderstood.

There is no question that a salad is wonderful when it comes to delivering a delicious and nutritious meal or serving as a side. The question is, are you eating it this way?

One doesn't have to go far to find a salad that includes ingredients like cheese, croutons, egg, fried chicken, etc. While all of these ingredients are delicious and can be enjoyed in moderation, they do nothing to help save on calories, carbs, or fat grams. One of the most popular salads in the USA is the Chicken Caesar. Did you know that the typical version of this salad has 700 calories with a whopping 46 grams of fat?

Salads are at their nutritional best when they predominantly contain fresh, raw vegetables and lean protein. When adding any of the more highly-caloric ingredients, do so in moderation, and try to add only one or two of them to your salad.

Salad Dressing
Salad dressing adds another twist to the story. While a good-tasting salad requires a dressing of some kind, its addition can affect a salad's overall nutritional value in some potentially negative ways. A normal salad dressing contains 6 to 8 grams of fat and 75 calories per teaspoon serving. Most of us add far more dressing to our salads than that, bringing these amounts to almost 30 grams of fat and 300 calories per salad.

So, when it comes to dressing your salad, less is more. Also, stick to homemade dressings such as light vinaigrette. In a glass jar (that has a lid), add 1 part vinegar or lemon juice, 2 parts olive oil, 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, fresh or dried herbs, salt and pepper. Close the lid, and give it a good shake. You just made enough vinaigrette to last you a week!

Rice Cakes
Rice cakes are tricky! As the poster child for all things healthy, they contain a large amount of high glycemic index carbohydrates, known to cause a rise in blood sugar levels. Elevated blood sugar levels have been shown to slow down the body's ability to burn fat.

This is a food that has received a bad rap – mainly as a result of the versions put forth by many restaurants and fast food establishments. "Restaurant chili" usually contains inordinate amounts of fat, sodium, and calories. But it doesn't have to be this way, as chili doesn't require large amounts of oil or meat to taste great.

Lean ground turkey or chicken, or even various soy-based products can be used in place of beef and pork. The addition of various vegetables and legumes will add vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber to your meal, thus making chili a nutrient-dense food.

Finding a healthy cracker comes down to reading labels. If you haven't already done so, check out the nutritional content of your favorite crackers – what you see may shock you. It's a common perception that crackers are a good alternative to chips. Believe it or not, this isn't always the case. Many crackers contain more calories and fat than natural corn chips, not to mention hydrogenated oils and sugar.

Fruit Juice
Regardless of whether it's bottled or freshly squeezed, fruit juice is high in both sugar and calories. While natural and fresh-squeezed juices do contain some positive nutrients, they are not the best choice for consuming in large quantities. Quite often, an 8-ounce glass of juice has nearly the calories and sugar content of the same amount of soda.

When consuming fruit juice, do so in moderation and stick to either fresh-squeezed or natural juices containing 100% juice with no added sugar. One way to limit your fruit juice consumption is to dilute it with spring water.

This ingredient is somewhat vilified for its fat content. Nuts should be eaten in moderation by anyone counting fat grams, but that doesn't mean they're an unhealthy food. Actually, it's quite the opposite.

For starters, nuts are a fantastic source of low-carb protein. Due to their dietary fiber content, they also have the ability to curb hunger, making them a worthy between-meal snack. In the case of walnuts, they are also heart healthy as they contain Omega-3 fatty acids.

Blended Coffee Drinks
With all the recent bad press, it probably comes as no surprise that these drinks are loaded with calories and sugar. Mentioning them at all almost seems like pointing out the obvious. What's not quite so obvious is just how alarming the actual statistics are. Did you know that a Venti (24-ounce) Caramel Mocha Frappuccino from Starbucks contains 460 calories and an amazing 79 grams of sugar? The really bad news is that those numbers do not include the addition of whipped cream.

Flavored Oatmeal
Oatmeal is low in fat and high in fiber, making it a very nutritious food. On the other hand, flavored oatmeal contains a fair amount of sugar, sometimes as much as 15 grams per packet. If you're one of those people who eat 2 packs at a time for breakfast, you are consuming almost 30 grams of sugar before you even leave for work.

Unfortunately, salsa is primarily associated with some not-so-diet-friendly foods. Truth be told, most salsas are low in calories and fat. An added benefit to eating any salsa with tomatoes as an ingredient is that it contains the nutrient lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant. Aside from promoting overall heart health, the body converts lycopene into vitamin A, which aids both vision and healthy skin.

They may taste delicious, but most muffins are loaded with calories, fat, and sugar. Larger muffins can actually contain as many as 400 calories each. For anyone who's trying to stick to a 2000-calorie-a-day diet, eating a large muffin will use up nearly one quarter of your caloric allotment. Whole grain or low-fat muffins are a better alternative to regular muffins, but they can still have an abundance of empty calories.

Protein Bars
Protein bars are misleading. Many of these bars were designed with pro athletes in mind. When eating them as a between-meal snack, they can provide more protein than the average person needs, and more calories than the average person can burn off. For some bars, these amounts are so high they're more of a meal replacement than a snack.

With the recent low-carb craze, potatoes have become one of those foods that many of us avoid. Before you get rid of them altogether, here's something you may not know. A 2004 Department of Agriculture study, which looked at the antioxidant levels of over 100 different foods, ranked the potato 17th highest overall. Red-skinned potatoes and sweet potatoes also have high levels of nutritious carotenoids.

Once again, it's important to know that we are not recommending nor discouraging the consumption of any of these foods. As a matter of fact, a well-rounded diet that includes controlled portions and concentrates mostly on whole foods is the best way to go. But this also includes an occasional splurge. After all, variety is the spice of life.

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