Multi-Grain and Wheat Breads
Terms like multi-grain, 7-grain, and wheat sound healthy, but they may not actually contain heart-healthy whole grains. Many breads labeled “multi-grain” and “wheat” are typically made with refined grains, so you’re not getting the full nutritional benefit of the whole grain. How can you be sure? Read nutrition labels carefully. If the first flour in the ingredient list is refined (it will typically say “bleached” or “unbleached enriched wheat flour”) you are not getting a 100% whole-grain bread.
Don’t assume that anything with the word “salad” in it must be healthy. Prepared tuna salads, chicken salads, and shrimp salads are often loaded with hidden fats and calories due to their high mayonnaise content. While a lot depends on portion size and ingredients, an over-stuffed tuna sandwich can contain as many as 700 calories and 40 grams of fat. If you’re ordering out, opt for prepared salads made with low-fat mayonnaise, and keep the portion to about the size of a deck of cards. Better yet, make your own, like this Herbed Greek Chicken Salad.
Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter
Reduced-fat peanut butter is not necessarily a healthier version of regular peanut butter. Read the labels to see why. Both regular and reduced-fat peanut butter contain about the same amount of calories, but the reduced-fat variety has more sugar. But isn’t it healthy to reduce some fat? Not in this case. Regular peanut butter is a natural source of the “good” monounsaturated fats. Look for a natural peanut butter with an ingredient list that contains no added oils. Better yet, find a store where you can grind your own, or make your own nut butters at home.
Energy bars are the perfect pre-workout snack, right? Not always. Many energy bars are filled with high fructose corn syrup, added sugar, and artery-clogging saturated fat. Plus, some bars (particularly meal replacement varieties) contain more than 350 calories each―a bit more than “snack size” for most people. It is a good idea to fuel up with a mix of high quality carbs and protein before an extended workout or hike. Choose wisely: one-quarter cup of trail mix, or 1.5 oz. of low-fat cheese and three to four small whole-grain crackers. Or, make your own healthy granola bars and trail mix with these recipes.
Most bran muffins, even those sold at delis and coffee shops, are made with generally healthy ingredients. The problem is portion size. Many muffins sold in stores today dwarf the homemade muffins made a generation ago. A random sampling of some coffee and restaurant chain bran muffins showed that many topped 350 calories apiece, and that’s before any butter or jam. The bran muffins at one popular chain bakery contain 600mg of sodium―roughly one-third of a day’s maximum. Even a healthful food, if over-consumed, can be not-so-healthful. Enjoy your bran muffin, but just eat half, and save the rest for an afternoon snack. If you want to save money and calories, bake your own.