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7 Secretly Unhealthy Foods

You’ve been watching what you eat, and yet the pounds refuse to budge. These secret diet saboteurs may be to blame.

By Kate Rope
Fruit SmoothiesMichael Rosenfeld/Getty Images


With so much fruit, how could a smoothie be a bad thing? Trouble comes to tropical paradise when a smoothie’s main ingredient is fruit juice, which adds calories without providing any of the good-for-you fiber you get from the fruit itself. What’s more, some smoothie spots use sugar-loaded sherbet or frozen yogurt to bump up flavor. “The average smoothie is going to provide enough calories for a meal—400 to 600—but not satisfy you like a meal,” warns Gans. Which means you’ll be adding on the calories later when hunger comes roaring back.

Eat Smart:

  • On the go, opt for a low-fat yogurt and a piece of fruit.
  • At home, try Gans’s recipe for a healthy smoothie: Blend a half-cup low-fat yogurt, a half-cup nonfat milk, one serving of fruit (such as a cup of frozen berries or a frozen banana), and a tablespoon of flax seed.

Vitamin Drinks, Sports Drinks, and Other Sweetened Beverages

A growing body of research suggests that ingesting added sugar from sweetened beverages increases the risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends we get no more than 6.5 teaspoons of added sugar daily. But most of us way outpace that. Between 1970 and 2005 the average American’s intake of added sugars (cane sugar, beet sugar, high fructose corn syrup, honey, or agave) jumped by 20 percent, and most of that increase came from beverages. You probably consume 22 to 30 teaspoons of added sugar daily, which adds up to 350 to 475 empty calories every day.

Soda takes a lot of the heat, but the problem doesn’t begin and end there. For instance, the 20-ounce bottle of SoBe Green Tea provides 15.5 teaspoons of added sugar—just one teaspoon less than a 20-ounce Coke. And a Minute Maid lemonade of the same size has a half-teaspoon more than a Coke. Gatorade and Vitamin Water may sound healthy, but a 20-ounce bottle of either exceeds your daily sugar allowance by two teaspoons.

Eat Smart:

  • In restaurants, ask for unsweetened beverages—like ice tea—and add in a zero-calorie sweetener such as Splenda, says Greaves.
  • Look for sugar-free versions of Vitamin Water and lemonade (like good ol’ Crystal Light), and Gatorade’s G2 reduced-sugar drink.
  • At home, make your own flavored water, adding in sliced cucumbers, oranges, berries, lemons, or limes. Looking for a boost of vitamins? Pop a multi with your water.
Read More About:Healthy Eating

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Quick Tip


Juice may serve up vitamins, but it won’t do much to ease hunger: Unlike solid foods, liquids don’t trip the brain’s satiety mechanism. For a more effective snack, pair a glass of 100 percent juice with a few nuts. Get more tips.