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Watch Out for These 'Healthy' Foods

If you're one of the millions of Americans hoping to lose weight by buying fat-free, cholesterol-free or all-natural products, you may be surprised. Experts say it's those so-called "healthy" foods that often sabotage diets.

"These are the foods we naturally look to as we try to lose extra pounds; however, they are the ones that we need to be careful about," said Dee Rollins, PhD, RD, with Baylor Regional Medical Center at Grapevine.

  • Granola bars: "Everyone thinks granola bars are wonderful, yet if you turn it over and look at the ingredients, you'll see that it has high fructose corn syrup and a lot of sugars," said Rollins. In fact, the average granola bar contains more than 300 calories and 10 grams of fat - not a healthy snack at all.
  • Bran cereals: "You'll find that there's a lot of hidden sugar, perhaps even some hidden salt, even a little fat in those cereals that you don't anticipate finding," said Rollins.
  • Ground turkey: A pound of ground turkey sometimes contains more fat grams than a pound of ground beef. "If you flip that label over and read the ingredients, you'll see that it's high salt, maybe they added some fat, maybe they added some sugar and those products might not be as healthy as you think they are," said Rollins.
  • Multi-grain, honey wheat, seven-grain bread: Inside that brown bread wrapper is not whole grain bread. Look for whole grain as the first ingredient.
  • "Low-fat foods": The ultimate in diet deception - the words "low-fat." "When they take the fat out, they almost always put the sugar in, so check the calorie count. There's probably more calories in a low-fat or low-carbohydrate product than in a regular product," said Rollins.
  • 100 percent fruit juice: It's still full of calories.
  • All-natural potato chips: They may be made from real potatoes, but still loaded with fat and sodium.
  • Cholesterol-free anything: If it's not an animal product, it doesn't have cholesterol in it at all, so keep in mind that usually when you see the label "cholesterol-free," it means nothing.

So what exactly should you look for when reading labels? According to Rollins, concentrate on three things: sodium, fat and total calories. Then read through the ingredients and make sure things like salt, sugar and corn syrup aren't at the top (the higher up the name of the ingredient on the ingredient list, the more of it the food product contains).

Used with permission from www.health-eheadlines.com, © 2006, Write On, Inc.

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