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Dietitians Dish: Is it really healthy?

By By Lindsay Adams
Dec. 31, 2013 at 6:31 a.m.


Pretty packaging, clever food labels and intriguing advertisements can heavily influence the foods we choose to eat and what we think is healthy. If you aren't careful, it's very easy to fall for many not-so-accurate claims.

Below are a few common foods that are often mistakenly thought to be healthy.

Granola

Unfortunately, granola is usually packed with fat and sugar, and you know what that means - lots of extra calories, too. One popular brand of low-fat granola contains 230 calories, 3 grams of fat and 17 grams of sugar in 2/3cup.

Compare that to 1 whole cup of a typical unsweetened whole grain cereal, which contains only 110 calories, 1 gram of fat and 6 grams of sugar. That's a pretty significant difference.

Some companies are trying to create healthier versions of granola, so whether you're watching your weight, your heart or your blood sugar levels, watch out for granola.

Chicken, tuna salad

Let me tell you, I absolutely love both chicken and tuna salad, but because mayonnaise is often the base for these dishes, they are typically high in fat and calories. Alone, 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise contains 100 calories and 10 grams of fat, and chicken and tuna salad has a lot more than 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise.

I like to make my chicken and tuna salad with plain, nonfat Greek yogurt, which contains about 10 calories and no fat in 1 tablespoon.

Add lots of veggies, herbs and spices to create a yummy alternative to traditional mayo-based chicken and tuna salad.

Peanut butter, Nutella

So, you're thinking one of these spreads on apple slices sounds like a perfect snack.

It may be tasty, but unfortunately, commercial brands of peanut butter or other fancy nut spreads have fat and sugar added to them. Two tablespoons of Nutella contain 200 calories, 12 grams of fat and a whopping 17 grams of sugar.

Too much of that, combined with whatever you choose to spread it on, can easily turn into more than a snack. Try natural nut butters with only one or two ingredients. For example, peanuts or peanuts and salt.

Don't let appealing marketing mislead you. Always read, and compare food labels. Be on the lookout for more of these common food misconceptions in articles to come.

Lindsay Adams is a registered and licensed dietitian at DeTar Health care Systems. Send questions or comments to dietitians@vicad.com.

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