Healthy & Convenient?
Healthy & Convenient?
Sometimes you don’t have time to pack a healthy snack because life happens and things happen. Instead, you may go to the store and purchase something you think is healthy.
Review the list below and think twice before you purchase these “snacks.”
Yogurt is healthful. Raisins are healthful. So, yogurt-covered raisins are healthful, correct? Wrong! A 1/4 cup portion of yogurt-covered raisins actually contains nearly 200 calories and 6 grams of fat. Most of that fat is the saturated kind. There are also nearly 35 grams of carbohydrates and 30 grams of sugar in this very small portion.
Prepackaged lunch sandwiches:
A turkey and cheese sandwich on hearty-looking bread is good for you, right? These are lunchables for adults—take one to work, heat in the microwave for about 1 minute and enjoy a healthy, warm meal. One sandwich contains just a little more than 300 calories, 13 grams of fat, and 600 milligrams of sodium. You would do much better to pack a sandwich that you made yourself.
Baked wheat crackers:
One serving of wheat crackers can easily contain 140 calories, 6 grams of fat, and 260 mg of sodium. How many people only eat one serving? Furthermore, look closely at the ingredient list and you are likely to find that enriched flour is the first ingredient listed. You want whole grain flour as your first ingredient.
100% real fruit juice snacks:
At 100-150 calories and less than 1g of fat/packet, it appears that many worse choices are available. However, most brands contain 15 grams of sugar. The added vitamin C makes them seem nutritious. A fresh piece of fruit would be a better choice. If you consumed a fresh orange, you would consume 60 calories, no fat, and 12 grams of sugar, in addition, the good source of fiber and antioxidants that the fruit snacks do not contain.
Granola, considered as a nutrition powerhouse since the 1960s and 1970s, is not as healthful of a choice as some other cereals. Consider that 1 cup of a popular brand of granola (with added raisins) contains 300 calories, 4 grams of fat (1 gram of which is saturated), 65 grams of carbohydrates, and less fiber than a bowl of raisin bran. Do you really have to ask yourself why?
A fruit-filled cereal bar is probably better than nothing, but not by much. The average cereal bar of this type contains 140 calories, 3 grams of fat (1 gram of which is saturated), 13 grams of sugar, less than 1 gram of fiber, and less than 1 gram of protein, which means that you will probably get hungry again within one hour of consuming it. Skimping out on meals can lead to overeating later in the day.
Sugar-free is good or so goes the common perception. Actually, in most cases, a small serving of the real thing is a better choice. For example, one popular 16-gram sugar-free chocolate bar provides 80 calories, 4 g of fat (nearly 2 grams of which are saturated), 10 grams of carbohydrate, and 8 g of sugar! The 8 grams of sugar come from milk—what the package should read is “free of added sugar.” Even so, consider that the same company’s 16-gram regular chocolate bar contains 78 calories, 5 grams of fat (3 grams of which are saturated), 10 grams of carbohydrate, and 9 grams of sugar. The packaging does differ, and the sugar-free bar may make you feel more virtuous and more likely to eat another serving. All sugar-free products are not created equal. Many have added fats and sugar alcohols to compensate for flavor.
Here is the unsettling truth about what banana chips are—essentially deep-fried, dried fruit. Banana chips are deep fried in oil, usually saturated oil. Ten little chips contain 50 calories, 1 gram of fat (the fat in banana chips is approximately 60% saturated), and 12 grams of carbohydrate, nearly as much as is found in a small apple or orange, or in one half of a banana.
How harmless is a little blueberry muffin? Well, the first thing to look at is the serving size. A medium-sized muffin generally weighs in at around 113 grams. The average coffee-house muffin generally weighs in at 125-150 grams. So, even if you eat a 113-g medium-sized muffin, you would consume 445 calories, 22 grams of fat (4 grams of which are saturated), 56 grams of carbohydrate, 31 grams of sugar, and 45 mg of cholesterol. Good thing you did not go for a large muffin.
A caramel latte seems like a safe choice—full of calcium from the milk, with just the right amount of sweetness to feel like a treat. It should feel like a treat, because it contains nearly 450 calories, 18 grams of fat (12 grams of which are saturated), 50 mg of cholesterol, 200 mg of sodium, 54 grams of carbohydrate, and 49 grams of sugar in a 12-fluid-ounce serving. And you thought the molten chocolate cake was bad!
Christina Bartlett RD, LD is a Registered Dietitian and the owner of Everything In Moderation. Dedicated to providing nutrition information that is tailored to the individual.
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This post originally appeared on our January/February 2013 Magazine