Unhealthy 'Health' Foods: ShopSmart Reveals Tricky Treats and What to Eat Instead

Mar 14, 2011, 18:00 ET from ShopSmart Magazine

YONKERS, N.Y., March 14, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Some health-food masqueraders can fool even the savviest shoppers and people who pride themselves on their nutritional know-how. A new report in the April 2011 issue of ShopSmart magazine, from the publisher of Consumer Reports, unveils some foods that may seem good for you but aren't necessarily—and advice on truly healthful foods to choose instead.

"Don't let seemingly healthful foods derail your diet," said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. "If you think you're making a good choice by having a bran muffin or trail mix for breakfast instead of a bowl of cereal, you could be undermining your health—with lots of fat—and sabotaging your waistline—with excess calories."

Here is a sampling of ShopSmart's unhealthy health foods and what to try instead:


Their colors may be mesmerizing, but they're usually high in calories and fat and they don't count as a serving of vegetables.

TRY THIS instead! Have some air-popped popcorn or dried veggies. Try the Just Tomatoes brand of dried vegetables because they have no added fat, salt, or anything else.


It's usually high in sugar, fat, and calories and relatively low in vitamins and minerals. There are about 400 calories in a cup.

TRY THIS instead!  Have a bowl of an airy, oat-based cereal, like Cheerios, which topped ShopSmart's last tests of kid-friendly cereals. For extra crunch and sweetness, add just a sprinkling of granola on top.


A lot of turkey hot dogs are surprisingly high in fat, and some are even higher in fat than regular hot dogs. They also might contain loads of sodium and nitrates.

TRY THIS instead! A turkey breast sandwich is a better choice. But if you're really craving that hot dog, read packages and go for the turkey version with the least fat.


While vitamin infused waters do have some added nutrients, they're often loaded with sugar and sometimes caffeine.

TRY THIS instead! Have plain old H2O with a squeeze from a lemon, lime or orange slices.


They're usually huge— enough for two people sometimes—and high in calories and sometimes fat. White flour tortillas often have 300 to 400 calories alone, and offer little nutritional value.

TRY THIS instead! Have a sandwich on whole-grain or whole-wheat bread. When shopping for bread, make sure whole grain is first on the ingredient list.


Just like white pasta, regular couscous is a processed, refined grain with little nutritional value.

TRY THIS instead! Buy whole-wheat couscous or opt for a whole grain like quinoa or brown rice.

Use visual cues to better judge serving sizes and limit calories:  

  • 3 ounces of meat = a deck of cards
  • 1 cup of cereal or cooked pasta = a baseball
  • 1.5 ounces of cheese = 4 stacked dice
  • 1/2 cup fresh fruit = half a baseball

About ShopSmart magazine:

Launched in Fall 2006 by Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, ShopSmart draws upon Consumer Reports' celebrated tradition of accepting no advertisements and providing unbiased product reviews. The magazine features product reviews, shopping tips on how to get the most out of products and "best of the best" lists. ShopSmart is ideal for busy shoppers who place a premium on time. ShopSmart has a newsstand price of $4.99 and is available nationwide at major retailers including Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart, Borders, Kroger, Safeway and Publix. ShopSmart is available by subscription at www.ShopSmartmag.org.

ShopSmart is now available 10 times a year. Subscribe at www.ShopSmartmag.org.

SOURCE ShopSmart Magazine