Sweet potato fries, buttered popcorn, and more common sins against saintly superfoods
Frying Sweet Potatoes
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It's easy to think opting for sweet potato over regular fries is automatically a more nutritious move. And while it's true that sweets offer some extra health benefits over white taters like beta carotene and vitamin A, frying is more often than not bad news.
One of the biggest issues is the temperature of the oil as a fried food cooks: Not hot enough, and your food absorbs excess oil, leading to extra calories and fat on your plate. Your batter or breading could also absorb extra oil, not to mention certain oils are more nutritious than others to begin with. Frying does come in varying levels of unhealthfulness, but even the healthiest frying oil is something to enjoy in moderation. Pick peanut, soybean, or canola oil, and use a fry thermometer while cooking for the healthiest possible outcome, according to Cooking Light.
Photo: Flickr: Calgary Reviews
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Raisins pack fiber, iron, vitamin C, and a hearty dose of potassium, but don't let that white coating fool you. Just because it's called yogurt doesn't mean this isn't candy.
We found one label that includes eight ingredients in that yogurt coating, including sugar and trans fats.
Loading Up on Barbecue Sauce
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Grilled chicken or lean cuts of beef are excellent sources of protein and some iron to boot. But how you adorn your meat can be equally important as the cut you select. Just two tablespoons of barbecue sauce—and that's a pretty paltry amount—packs nine grams of sugar, about the same as a quarter of a can of soda.
Photo: Flickr: LifeSupercharger
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They may be tiny, but blueberries are surprisingly powerful, thanks to high levels of antioxidants for very few calories.
But in a number of storebought products, you may find blueberry impostors. Bagels, cereals, muffins, and more come complete with concocted "blueberries" made of "sugar, corn syrup, starch, hydrogenated oil, artificial flavors, and—of course—artificial food dye blue No. 2 and red No. 40," the LA Times reports.
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The low-calorie, high-fiber, antioxidant-rich snack is surprisingly nutritious—if you air pop your own, that is. A cup of air-popped kernels has no fat, barely any sodium, and only 31 calories. But just one ounce of the buttery, microwaved stuff will set you back 148 calories, 216mg sodium, and 8g fat.
Artificially Flavoring Water
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We wish people would stop messing with good ol' H2O when it's so simple and perfect as is. The ingredients lists of neon-colored, "enhanced" waters are padded with artificial sweeteners, colors, and other chemicals we can't pronounce. We'll stick with lemon slices.
Frankenstein-ing Egg Whites
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In case you missed it, what's really in your egg-white breakfast sandwich might scare you. That's right, those are not just egg whites. Many of these breakfast offerings marketed as healthful choices have a whole host of other ingredients—with some listing as many as 15.
Photo: Flickr: Goodiesfirst
Sweetening Yogurt with Fruit
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With protein and calcium, you probably think you can't go wrong when it comes to selecting a yogurt. But those fruit-on-the-bottom varieties pose a particular problem: high fructose corn syrup and other artificial sweeteners. Instead, buy a plain variety of your favorite yogurt and mix in your own real fruit.
Overseasoning Kale Chips
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The reigning healthiest salad green makes for a tasty, crunchy snack, but the verdict is in that homemade kale chips are leaps and bounds tastier than storebought varieties. Why? That "thick, gunky coating of unidentifiable flavorings," according to our friends at HuffPost Taste. Depending on the flavor they're going for, manufacturers may add a heftier dose of sodium or sugar than you'd top your homemade batch with (click here to learn how to make your own kale chips!).