30 Healthy Foods That Could Wreck Your Diet
Sneaky diet saboteurs
Cutting the junk from your diet is the first step to weight loss. But sometimes, the nutritious foods you swap in are surprisingly high in fat and calories. That's why serving size matters—even when it comes to fruits, nuts, yogurt, and salads.
Check out this list of sneaky whole foods, and get tips on how reap their benefits in the healthiest way possible.
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This superfood is packed with good-for-you nutrients and antioxidants, as well as belly-filling fiber and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. But if your goal is to lose weight, you'll need to watch your intake. Avocados are high in fat and calorically dense. One serving size is about ⅕th of an avocado, and clocks in at 50 calories, and a single avocado can deliver more than 350 calories. This means that the small bowl of guacamole you enjoy so much is more than a snack—it's actually getting closer to a whole meal.
Tip: Swap your guacamole dip for this lightened-up, metabolism-boosting Avocado Whip.
People who consume moderate amounts of red wine (and other types of alcohol, too) may be at reduced risk for heart disease, Alzheimer's, certain types of cancers, and even weight gain. The key word: moderation. A 5-ounce serving is about 130 calories.
Tip: Beware fishbowl-sized glasses, which make you more likely to overpour. Pour your wine into a measuring cup, and then dump it into your glass to see what a serving looks like in your glassware.
Related: 7 Ways to Stop Alcohol from Ruining Your Diet
Nuts are packed with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin E, and fiber—but they're also high in calories. A quarter-cup of almonds, for example, contains 132 calories. It's all too easy to eat them by the handful, like popcorn.
Tip: Measure out a serving rather than eating straight from the container, and steer clear of these worst nuts for your diet.
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Nuts, dried fruits, and oats—what could be so fattening about that? Some store-bought brands pack in ingredients like honey, added sugar, and chocolate and can set you back hundreds of calories. Plus, as you already learned, nuts are high in fat.
Tip: Make your own trail mix—here's a healthy recipe—and limit yourself to a quarter-cup serving.
Dried fruits are just normal fruits that have had the water taken out of them. So, a cup of dried fruit packs five to eight times more calories and sugar than a cup of the fresh stuff. Here's some perspective: a cup of fresh grapes is 60 calories, while a cup of raisins is a whopping 460.
Tip: Go for fresh fruit whenever possible. Use dried fruit sparingly as a garnish, not as a snack.
Dark chocolate contains disease-fighting polyphenols and has even been associated with weight loss—if you don't eat too much of it, that is. An ounce of dark chocolate packs in 155 calories and 9 grams of fat, 5 of it saturated.
Tip: Snack on dark chocolate that contains a high percentage of cacao—that means it's less sugary. Have just a couple squares at a time.
Gluten-free packaged foods
If you have a gluten intolerance, then you must drop wheat, barley, and rye from your diet to stay healthy. But gluten-free products aren't necessarily diet-friendly. Gluten-free packaged foods often replace regular flour with cornstarch and brown rice flour, which are more calorically dense.
Tip: Whether or not you're on a gluten-free diet, you should try to eat as many whole, natural foods as possible, and limit your intake of heavily processed foods.
What could go wrong with a frosty glass of blended fruit, veggies, and ice? When they're made with ingredients like chocolate, peanut butter, frozen yogurt, or flavored syrups and served in huge cups, then they quickly become a sneaky source of added calories. Some are no healthier than a milkshake!
Tip: To prevent your blended beverage from becoming a calorie bomb, it should contain nothing other than fresh or unsweetened frozen fruit, ice, plain yogurt, and unsweetened milk.
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A serving of tuna canned in water boasts a whopping 39 grams of protein for just 179 calories. Problem is, most people add mayo, which tacks on an additional 90 calories and 10 grams of fat per tablespoon.
Tip: Swap out mayo for Greek yogurt—you'll get the same tangy flavor for a fraction of the calories and fat, plus an additional protein boost.
The caffeine in coffee may help protect your brain cells against the damage that causes dementia, and your brew's antioxidants ward off disease. But if you order a large latte with whole milk, you'll be sipping up to 300 calories and 15 grams of fat.
Tip: Drink it black, and you set yourself back just 5 calories. Add a splash of fat-free milk and a teaspoon of sugar for just an additional 30 calories.
A container of plain yogurt contains just 100 calories and provides a dose of bone-building calcium. But one small cup of yogurt that comes with fruit on the bottom may contain up to 150 calories and 26 grams of sugar.
Tip: Buy plain, fat-free yogurt and add sweetness with fresh fruit and honey. Fat-free Greek yogurt is even better—it's naturally lower in sugar but contains double the protein to keep you satisfied longer.
Raw fish alone will hardly put a dent in your calorie intake. Special sushi rolls are another story. They often come with rich, high-calorie ingredients such as cream cheese, spicy mayo, tempura-battered shrimp, and lots of white rice. You'll need to watch out for the soy sauce too, since it has sodium, which can cause bloating.
Tip: Opt for sashimi, brown rice sushi, or a simple roll without all of the extra ingredients.
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You may be patting yourself on the back for choosing a wrap over a couple slices of bread. It turns out that many varieties are actually worse for your waistline than a couple slices of whole grain bread. A Mission Spinach Wrap, for example, racks up 210 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 440 milligrams of belly-bloating sodium—and that's before you even add any toppings.
Tip: Keep calories under control by using smaller sandwich tortillas that are 6 to 8 inches in diameter. You should also be sure the package says "100% whole grain." Some "veggie wraps" are just a white-flour wrap with a tiny amount of veggies and a whole lot of food coloring.
Tea contains disease-fighting antioxidants and has been linked to improved heart health and reduced risk for dementia. However, drinking sweetened bottled tea may do your health more harm than good. These products are loaded with sugar, and one bottle may contain two or more servings.
Tip: Brew your own iced tea and add sweetener gradually to taste; you'll probably use less than you'd get from a bottle. Or, simply buy an unsweetened variety.
Veggie burgers have less fat and cholesterol than traditional beef patties. Like any burger, though, you can easily add 1,000 calories or more by piling on cheese, ketchup, and mayo on a huge bun.
Tip: Go easy on the toppings and try one of these slim recipes.
Tofu is packed with iron, calcium, and protein, and a half-cup raw contains just 94 calories. Problem is, it can also sponge up the oil you're cooking with, turning your healthy meal into a fat bomb.
Tip: Stick to just 1 tablespoon of oil when making a stir fry, or try one of these healthy tofu recipes.
Think you're making a smart choice by ordering a salad? You are, as long as you don't load your leafy greens with shredded cheese, croutons, candied nuts, and creamy dressing. Doing that can easily make your meal even more fattening than having pizza for dinner.
Tip: Cut down on add ons and go easy on the dressing—even some vinaigrettes can be high in calories.
Energy bars are loaded with sugar and carbs and are high on the glycemic index. Eat one while sitting at your desk, and you'll feel the sugar rush—and then the crash.
Tip: Though energy bars aren't ideal for everyday snacking, they come in handy when you're exercising for longer than an hour. If you're going on a three-hour bike ride, for instance, you'll need to stop and eat about halfway through in order to have enough energy to pedal yourself home.
Starting your day with a bowl of cereal can give you a dose of whole grains, fiber, and protein—or it can load you up with sugar and sodium.
Tip: Read the box closely: your cereal should contain at least 3 grams of fiber and no more than 10 grams of sugar per serving, and whole grains should be at the top of the ingredients list.
Whole wheat bread
Unless it's made from actual whole grains, it's just as processed as white bread. Often, the whole wheat has been ground into a fine flour that's easy to digest and spikes your blood sugar just as quickly as white bread.
Tip: Look for 100% whole wheat, whole grain or sprouted breads instead.
Frozen fruit is just as good as fresh, and in fact, Health's contributing nutrition editor always has some in her freezer. But did you know that many brands add sugar?
Tip: Check the ingredients list. It should contain just one ingredient: the fruit.
Cheese is a good source of protein and calcium, but of course, it's full of fat and calories. An ounce of cheddar, for example, contains 113 calories and 9 grams of fat (6 saturated).
Tip: Limit your portions, but don't reach for low-fat varieties. A small serving of full-fat cheese is more satisfying (not to mention it tastes better). Your best bets: fresh feta or goat cheese. They contain a fatty acid that helps you feel full and burn more fat.
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We've been conditioned to believe that turkey is always healthier than beef, but that's not always the case. A quarter pound of regular ground turkey contains 3 grams of saturated fat, while a pound of sirloin has just 2.5. That's because ground turkey often includes the fattier dark meat mixed in with the white.
Get it guilt-free: Buy turkey that's at least 95% lean and made primarily from breast meat.
Eggs are one of the best ways to start your day. They're loaded with protein and vitamin D, plus hard-to-get choline. However, an omelet can quickly turn from metabolism-booster to waist-widener when you load it with cheese and fatty meats.
Tip: Fill your omelet with veggies instead, which adds fiber and nutrients in addition to big flavor. You could also try one of these high-protein breakfast recipes that feature eggs.
RELATED: Are Eggs Actually Good for You?
Ketchup has zero fat, is low in calories, and contains vitamins A and C from the tomatoes. The downside? A lot of ketchup's flavor comes from added sugar and salt.
Tip: Think before you squirt that bottle: a serving size is just 1 tablespoon.
Milk really does do your body good: it's packed with vitamins A and D, protein, and calcium. A cup of whole milk, however, sets you back nearly 150 calories and 8 grams of fat.
Tip: You could switch to lowfat or nonfat milk and save up to 70 calories per cup, but some experts believe that the fat in whole milk makes it more satiating. Even nonfat milk contains 80 calories per cup, so no matter which you choose, mind your portions.
Burritos may seem healthy, but the kind you get at a restaurant has more than just rice and beans, lettuce, tomatoes and salsa. A single flour tortilla at Chipotle is 300 calories, and that doesn't even include the cheese, guacamole, sour cream, and other fatty add-ons.
Tip: Order your burrito in a bowl, and stick to the healthy stuff: black beans, brown rice, lean protein, and lots of veggies.
It's tempting to stock up on canned soup, since it makes for an easy, satisfying meal, packed with veggies. The bad news is that canned soups are typically high in salt, which can cause bloating and fluid retention; and made of highly processed ingredients.
Tip: Opt for low-fat and low-sodium versions of canned soup. Plus, you can always use water to dilute any soup in order to cut down on the salt content.
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Apples are a superfruit packed with immunity-boosting vitamin C and soluble fiber to help you feel full. They are the main ingredient in applesauce, but many of the jars you see on supermarket shelves are far from healthy. They are often loaded with added sugar to make them addictively sweet.
Tip: Look for the word "unsweetened" on the label or make your own so that you can control the sugar content.
RELATED: How to Peel and Core an Apple
Can you really get too much of a good thing? When it comes to fruit, maybe. All fruits are full of vitamins, water, fiber, and antioxidants, but some naturally contain more sugar (and therefore calories) than others. Figs, mangoes, grapes, bananas, and cherries are among the sugariest fruits.
Tip: Chances are, fruit is NOT making you fat (read why here). Still, you can't eat unlimited quantities and then be surprised when the scale ticks upward. Most women should stick to two servings of fresh fruit a day.
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