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The 8 Biggest "Healthy" Food Hoaxes of All Time

There will always be some people who are tricked into thinking that the foods below are actually healthy. Little do they know that these foods are the biggest food hoaxes of all time. These are the classic "good for you" foods that are really NOT good for you.
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bowl of muesli and yogurt with...
bowl of muesli and yogurt with...

There will always be some people who are tricked into thinking that the foods below are actually healthy. Little do they know that these foods are the biggest food hoaxes of all time.

These are the classic "good for you" foods that are really NOT good for you. Part of it is good marketing, for sure, and part of it is..I don't know...urban legend, maybe? Don't be fooled.


I love granola, but it's not healthy. Usually maligned for its saturated fat that we now know is probably not so bad for us, granola is still usually a sugar-crusted calorie fest. Of course, we know that the dose makes the poison, so if you want to eat granola, try limiting your portion to 1/3 cup and eat it with something else, like plain Greek yogurt. That way, you can eat less granola and you'll have some protein with it to balance it out. Better yet, try muesli. It's still full of whole grains and dried fruits, but it's less sugary. You'll still have to watch your portion, though, because it is calorie-rich.

Baked chips

I can't believe these are still being manufactured, but a visit to the grocery store assured me that they are. Sweet tasting and as satisfying as eating a nub of papier mache, these are not healthier than fried potato chips. Sure, they're lower in fat, but who cares? A look at the ingredients reveals two types of sugars in the chips, and a whole lot of added starch. Potato chips should have three ingredients: potatoes, oil, and salt. There is merit in consuming real food versus the "healthier" chemical version. Eat the real thing and get over it.

Fat-Free Dairy

I still see people, even dietitians, recommending and eating fat-free dairy. When I eat lunch with fellow RDs and out comes their fat-free sugar free yogurt, I really want to scream with horror. Fat-free, sugar-free products are so disgusting and unnecessary. Hey, if you like the taste of watery chemical milk product, then go for it. Just know that eating fat-free chemicals is probably not going to positively affect your health. In fact, the latest research shows that the fats in milk products are likely not related to an increase in heart disease risk.


I didn't want to mention margarine yet again, but I really couldn't leave it off my Food Hoax list. I won't beleaguer the point that I feel that margarine is chemical horridness, but I will give you the bottom line in bullet points: Eat a moderate amount of a variety of fats. Butter is cream and salt. Margarine is highly processed gunk. If you like the taste of margarine, go ahead, but know that it's probably not going to significantly improve your health. Neither is butter, but butter in moderation will not harm you, either. Don't feel like you have to use margarine in order to be healthy. The butter on your toast is not what's making your cholesterol high.


I figured I should leave this one off the list, but I still hear people saying that they use Nutella on their toast. They tell me they use it because it has 32 or 48 or however many hazelnuts in it and that's healthy. Excuse me? Next time you reach for Nutella, just remember that no matter how much "skim milk and 39 hazelnuts" it has in it, it's cake frosting. It's delicious, to be sure, but just like I call muffins "breakfast cake," Nutella is "cake frosting."

Whole Wheat Bread

Le Sigh. Bread is such a difficult thing to buy, because most major bread companies would have you think that their product is super healthy. Ancient Grain, Multigrain, Whole Wheat -- are these claims even indicative of a healthier product?

My answer is, take a look at the ingredient list. Most commercially-made breads have a seriously long list of preservatives and other unnecessary stuff in them. Chemicals to make the bread last longer, and to make it softer, artificial flavours and colours, and lots of added sugars. Caramel colour may be why your brown bread is brown. Sugar is in a lot of breads as a food for the yeast, but some breads use higher amounts for flavouring, too.

The bottom line is that if you'd like to find the healthiest bread, look for a sprouted grain, high fibre, low sugar type. I love Ezekiel bread, or a dense, chewy bread from a small local bakery. I know that someone actually kneaded the bread, slashed the top, and put it in the oven. They can tell me exactly what the bread has in it, and it tastes a lot better, too.

Breakfast Cereal

Ah, the ultimate hoax. Most breakfast cereals are highly-processed boxes of junk that are marketed to convince you that they're healthy but are the exact opposite. Highly refined, most will keep you full for exactly 13 minutes before you start foraging around the house for something else to eat. Even the "high protein" cereals are usually akin to a block of sugar in your bowl. The best cereals? Quick cooking (not the flavoured packets) steel cut, or large flake oatmeal or Red River, which takes a while to cook for a reason: it's pure grains. Or try my barley porridge. Cook your hot cereal using milk, not water, and you'll add some protein to keep you satisfied.


It's a sugar infusion, and I don't care if you squeeze it yourself. Eat the whole fruit, please. Juice is the devil.


The Most Unhealthy Food Ingredients