20 Junk Foods You Didn't Know You Were Eating

  • Peanut Butter

    Peanut butter can be a highly satisfying snack full of healthy fat, fiber, and protein, but you have to be pretty discriminating when you’re choosing from the stuff on your local supermarket’s shelves to avoid getting something that’s seriously bad for you. Many mass producers of peanut butter load their recipes with salt, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and trans fats, so make sure you’re taking a good look at the label before you put that jar in your cart.

  • Yogurt

    Dairy presents a whole host of digestive problems for plenty of consumers, but commercially-produced yogurt’s issues don’t end there. Yogurt is often loaded with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or artificial sweeteners, as well as dyes like Red 40, which is considered likely to be a human carcinogen, according to a recent report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest. And for more reasons to get rid of those sugary yogurts, discover these 40 Reasons to Ditch Refined Sugar!

  • Soy Meat

    Think you’re eating healthier by opting for soy substitutes instead of meat? Think again. Not only are many preparations of soy foods worse for your health than their baked or broiled meat counterparts (we're looking at you, fried tofu), research suggests a link between the consumption of soy and certain types of cancer. In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institutespecific genes encouraging cell growth were activated in a group of breast cancer survivors who frequently consumed soy, whereas no such cell growth was noticed in a control group. 
  • Veggie Chips

    Just because something has “veggie” on the label doesn’t mean it’s a health food. Most veggie chips are nutritionally similar to their more forthright potato-based counterparts, packing tons of sodium, trans fat, and other ingredients that are generally considered deleterious to human health. Even if you think you’re adding vegetables to your diet by eating veggie chips, you may be overestimating your intake; vegetable chips are made from such small portions of veggies that you’d have to eat huge amounts to get much of a nutritional benefit. 
  • Whole Wheat Bread

    Whole wheat bread may sound healthier than its white counterpart, but don’t be fooled: nutritionally, there’s little difference. Whole wheat bread is often no different in fiber content than white bread, and many varieties you’ll find in your local grocery store are loaded with sugar or high fructose corn syrup. In fact, a slice of Great Value whole wheat bread has three types of sweetener—refined sugar, molasses, and honey—in it. And instead of turning to sugary bread for your carb fix, try these 15 Best Grains For Weight Loss!

  • Dried Fruit

    Fruit can be a healthy and satisfying addition to your diet, but dried fruit is a different animal altogether. Many companies add sugar to make their fruit more palatable, and certain fruits are preserved with sulfites, which have an allergenic effect that can cause labored breathing, hives, and stomach pain in those sensitive to them.
  • Electrolyte Drinks

    If you’re looking to refuel after a grueling workout, turn to water, not electrolyte drinks. Most sports drinks are loaded with artificial colors and caloric sweeteners, and those that aren’t are packed with belly-bloating sugar substitutes that can actually increase your cravings for the sweet stuff. In fact, a 20-ounce bottle of lemon-lime Gatorade has 34 grams of sugar in it—that's four more than you'd get from a standard-size bag of M&Ms. And to sip your way slim, choose these 40 Drinks That Fight Fat!

  • Gluten-Free Snacks

    While there are countless celiac sufferers and gluten-intolerant individuals around the globe, many people have jumped on the gluten-free bandwagon as a way of losing weight, too. Unfortunately for the latter parties, gluten-free snacks are often no healthier than their glutinous counterparts; many actually have more calories, sugar, and total carbohydrates than those made with traditional wheat flour, making them less than weight-loss-friendly. 

  • Deli Meat

    Lean meats, like turkey, can be a great source of protein, but their deli incarnations are hardly health foods. Many deli meats are loaded with dyes, sugar, preservatives, and blood pressure-raising helpings of salt, making them a recipe for belly bloat and water retention. In fact, just two ounces of Oscar Mayer's Oven-Roasted Turkey Breast has 540 milligrams of sodium—more than a third of what the American Heart Association recommends consuming over the course of an entire day. And for healthy protein sources that won't weigh you down, turn to these 45 Protein Sources You Should Be Eating — But Aren't!
  • Egg Substitutes

    You may save some calories by switching to egg substitutes, but you’re paying more and missing out on some of the amazing nutrients contained in a whole egg. Egg substitutes are often little more than egg whites, preservatives, and dye, while eggs containing yolks are antioxidant-rich, great sources of choline, which can increase your metabolic rate, full of energizing B vitamins, and are good sources of vitamin D, which promotes protects against demineralization of bones, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
  • Tricolor Pasta

    Eating the rainbow doesn’t mean adding tricolor pasta to your diet. While this colorful carbohydrate-rich dish may claim to have vegetables in it, those veggies are often added only in trace amounts, and the pasta itself boasts few nutrients and little additional fiber when compared to its white counterpart. 
  • Low-Fat Salad Dressings

    Low-fat dressings are no bargain when it comes to your health. What you save in calories and fat, these dressings more than make up for in sugar, preservatives, artificial colors, and sodium, making them no more friendly to your waistline than full-fat versions. Can't believe it? Consider this: while entirely free of fat, a two-tablespoon serving of Maple Grove Raspberry Vinaigrette packs eight grams of sugar. And for more salad slip-ups to avoid, ditch the 20 Unhealthiest Salads on the Planet!
  • Fruit Cocktail

    If you think that digging into a fruit cocktail is a healthy way to add fruit to your diet, you’re woefully mistaken. Many fruit cocktails lining your supermarket’s shelves are packed in corn syrup or sugary juice, and the fruit contained within has been chemically preserved and dyed to keep its colors bright. Even worse, the BPA used to line some cans has been linked to childhood obesity by a study published in JAMA.
  • Margarine

    Margarine may have once been touted as a healthier alternative to butter, but it’s often even less friendly to your diet than its dairy counterpart. While formulas for the butter alternative continue to evolve, many companies are still making margarine from little more than trans fats and artificial coloring, both of which have shown to have potentially carcinogenic and obesogenic effects. And to fill up on fats the healthy way, turn to the 20 Healthiest High-Fat Foods!
  • Spinach Tortillas

    That spinach tortilla isn’t the veggie-loaded health food you think it is. Many so-called “veggie” wraps use little more than the juice of the vegetable they claim in their name, and that’s mostly just for color. The rest of the its nutritional profile is similar to your average white tortilla: loaded with refined flour, sugar, and low in fiber. And when you want to load your diet with real veggies, try out the 23 Best Vegetables for Weight Loss

  • Couscous

    Couscous may seem like a healthy grain, but in reality, it differs little from traditional pasta. This North African staple is actually a combination of semolina and water, and not a naturally-grown grain at all, so while it’s delicious, it’s not a health food. 
  • Honey Roasted Nuts

    Two things are undeniably true about honey-roasted nuts: they smell better than they taste, and they’re no friend to your weight loss efforts. Despite the “honey” in their name, most of these nuts are simply coated in sugar and butter before serving, making them a high-calorie, high-sugar way to enjoy what would otherwise be a healthy food. In fact, one of those tiny bags of peanuts can pack more than 300 calories—not exactly a light snack, And for incentive to consume nuts in their natural form, discover these 40 Ways Nuts Fight Fat
  • White Rice Sushi

    That specialty roll you ordered for dinner could be causing you to pack on the pounds. While many traditional rolls that contain only vegetables and fish are not terrible for you, huge portions of white rice, creamy sauces, fried toppings, cream cheese, and other ingredients can mean that one specialty roll has as many calories as your average burger. For a healthier option, choose brown rice rolls with raw fish and veggies and avoid anything doused in sauce or packed with tempura. And for healthier ways to get your fish fix, discover these 45 Delicious Sources of Omega-3s! 
  • Frozen Diet Meals

    Those meals in your supermarket’s freezer aisle may help you lose weight in the short-term, but they’re far from healthy choices, Many frozen dinners, even those of the diet variety, are loaded with salt, sugar, and preservatives, while shockingly lacking in protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals. Worse yet, research published in the British Journal of Nutrition reveals that regular consumption of convenience meals is associated with less healthy diets on the whole, as well as an increased risk of obesity. 
  • Granola Bars

    That granola bar you’ve been eating as a snack is unlikely the key to a slimmer or healthier body. While their oat base is relatively healthy on its own, most granola bars are loaded with sugar or high fructose corn syrup, and many have trans fats and unhealthy preservatives in them that can derail your weight loss. In fact, a Quaker Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bar packs seven grams of sugar, comprised of white sugar, brown sugar, molasses, and corn syrup. And for healthier ways to beat your hunger, turn to these 45 Healthy Snacks For a Slimmer Body!
  • Granola Bars

    That granola bar you’ve been eating as a snack is unlikely the key to a slimmer or healthier body. While their oat base is relatively healthy on its own, most granola bars are loaded with sugar or high fructose corn syrup, and many have trans fats and unhealthy preservatives in them that can derail your weight loss. 
    For healthier options for a quick snack, turn to the 45 Healthy Snacks For a Slimmer Body!