How Healthy Are These Health Foods Really?
Junk food can be free of gluten, dairy and nuts.” The “healthy foods” can also be high in fiber and protein and still not fit your waistline. And buzzwords like “PALO” and “vegan” don’t necessarily mean that snacking is healthy.
In short: navigating through the aisles of the supermarket, it’s more challenging than ever to separate what’s good for you from what’s bad for you. That’s why we turn to leading health experts to separate fact from fiction. We chatted with nutritionists, health coaches and more about some of the most popular “healthy” foods, from Right Rice to Halo Top.
Claim: Pop Zero is advertised in the form of healthy popcorn, which has less than 41 calories per serving and natural ingredients.
“It’s a non-GMO product,” experts say. It’s a non-GMO product, which is great,” said Dr. Marina Yuabova, founder of New York Integrated Health. (It’s an important fact to remember that most corn in the US is genetically modified).
“Pop Zero also has zero saturated fat, zero trans fat, and it’s vegan, However, it would be nice if this product could be made with organic popcorn.”
Claim: Bridjay’s Superfoods features USDA organic, healthy superfoods that are free of dairy, sugar, wheat, gluten and preservatives.
Here’s what the experts have to say “Collagen bark seems to be a good product, and because of the amount of protein and fiber claimed, even though it’s free of dairy, gluten and nuts, it seems to be a good product and attractive to buy. Preps and probiotics are also a plus for those with gut issues.” As for their other options, they’re equally high in fiber and protein, and lower in net carbohydrates, making them a good choice for losing weight without going hungry.
MAIN: Cocojune is certified organic, plant-based, and markets itself as a good source of probiotics.
Here’s what the experts are saying.” Foods rich in probiotics can help promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut, but a diet high in processed foods and added sugar can reduce the number of good bacteria in the gut,” says Kerri Axelrod, an integrative health coach. With that in mind, Axelrod recommends always choosing plain, unsweetened yogurt and skipping flavors that contain added sugar – meaning if you choose Cocojune, stick to plain coconut.
Conclusion: stick with Cocojune’s low sugar products!
MAIN: Kind Bark marketed himself as a chocolate snack with nutritious ingredients.
What the experts say.Axelrod says that since the bark contains 9 to 10 grams of sugar (depending on taste), it won’t be her snack of choice.” Better snack options are raw, unsalted almonds and a piece of 100% dark chocolate. You get healthy fats, fiber and protein from almonds to fill you up, while the antioxidants in dark chocolate are free of sugar and processed ingredients.” Bark also has ‘natural flavors’, which is an undisclosed umbrella term for additives.
Verdict: So sweet!
Verdict: So sweet!
Leek Plantain Chips.
MAIN: Chifles is marketed as a healthy snack that is 100% vegan and gluten-free. It is also recycled and uses simple ingredients.
Here’s what the experts have to say. While you may be tempted to splurge on these snacks, these aren’t the healthiest options.” “You definitely want to avoid snacks that contain refined vegetable oils,” says Axelrod. Although vegetable oils are low in saturated fats, they are also high in omega-6 fatty acids. Excess omega 6 fatty acids in your diet have been linked to heart disease, diabetes and inflammation, to name a few.”
Conclusion: stay away from vegetable oil!
CLAIM: Brightland sells handcrafted, delicious, healthy oils.
Here’s what the experts have to say.Axelrod gives this one two thumbs up for its nutrition label.” What we now know based on research is that extra virgin olive oil contains compounds called polyphenols, which are the compounds responsible for many of its health benefits. The fresher the olive oil, the higher the polyphenol content.”
The Bad Boys
Claims.Lesser Evil says it is committed to creating clean, healthy snacks that are both delicious and guilt-free.
Here’s what the experts are saying.” All of their products are organic and their popcorn gives you the option to choose from with avocado oil, coconut oil or grass-fed ghee and because it’s air-popped, it keeps the calories low,” says Nutrition Twins, Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CDN, CFT and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT.” Unlike other popcorn that has a long list of ingredients, this brand keeps it simple with no additional additives or preservatives.”
MAIN: Ark Foods positions itself as a modern agricultural company that creates simple, fresh food choices.
Here’s what the experts say: “These vegetarian dishes are made with healthy vegetables, spices and extra virgin olive oil.” “These vegetarian dishes are made with healthy vegetables, spices, extra virgin olive oil, and depending on the product, even cashews are used to make cheesy toppings,” says the Nutrition Twin.” They make healthy, low-calorie alternatives to pasta, or healthy cauliflower macaroni and cheese.”
Buba’s Fine Foods Ungranola
Claim: Bubba’s Fine Foods Ungranola is on the market as a gluten, grain, dairy, soy and refined sugar free alternative to traditional oatmeal.
Here’s what the experts are saying.” “This grain-free, refined sugar-free oatmeal has only 3 grams of sugar, which is much less than many oatmeal cereals contain up to 16 grams of sugar, and definitely meets the recommendation of less than 8 grams of sugar per serving,” says the nutrition twins. The green saba banana provides a boost of probiotic fiber.” That said, they warn that like most oatmeal, the oatmeal here is still quite high in calories and these in particular are also high in saturated fat because of the saturated fat of coconut oil.
Conclusion: healthy! (albeit a little calorie-ish).
Claim: Pirro’s sauce is a line of seasonings made using simple ingredients, bright flavors with no additives, for lighter cooking.
What the experts say. First it’s worth pointing out that this line of sauces can compete with most scratch options for the craziest flavors. That said, the nutritional twins note that while it is great to source the sauce for the fresh production of all their ingredients, including their basil, carrots, garlic, fennel, etc., and not use additives, they still include added sweeteners (honey) and a source of saturated fat (butter) in the marinara sauce.” Their salami sauce is nitrate and nitrite free, but still contains the saturated fat of uncured bacon and veal. Each half-cup of meat sauce has more calories than the same half-cup of pasta, and it also has 3.5 grams of saturated fat per serving.”
Review: “Fresh and delicious, but quite high. Fresh and delicious, but quite high in calories!
Mainstay: snow monkeys market themselves in the form of “anytime, anywhere” vegan desserts.
According to experts, “Snow Monkey is made with only fruits and seeds and what snow monkeys call ‘superfoods’ that can actually help keep your blood sugar stable.” Made with only fruit and seeds and what snow monkeys call ‘superfoods,’ this dessert can actually help keep blood sugar stable thanks to its 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber, which slows down digestion and doesn’t get sugar high before it crashes,” says the nutrition twin.” Snow Monkey also contains ingredients in anti-inflammatory packaging that are very rare in desserts, including Ceylon cinnamon, hemp seeds, cocoa and matcha green tea.”
Claim: Treeline cheese is a vegan, kosher, dairy-free, probiotic-rich cheese that is also Paleo-friendly.
Here’s what the experts are saying.” “These vegan cheeses contain all the real, healthy ingredients like cashews, spices and probiotics,” says The Nutrition Twins.” Each serving is 90-100 calories, which is less than the 115 calories of most cheeses, and it’s much lower in saturated fat than traditional cheese. As a bonus, it actually has a little bit of fiber in it, unlike traditional cheese.”
They did note one small downside-that there are only 3-4 grams of protein per serving, which is less than the 7 grams of protein per ounce of milk-type cheese.
Review! Healthy! (Though not as protein rich as regular cheese).
The main idea: GG cookies claim to be high-fiber cookies for appetite control.
Here’s what the experts are saying.” “These are made with simple ingredients that provide 4 grams of insoluble dietary fiber per serving, which is good for our digestive system as well as our appetite,” says Susan Piergeorge, MS, RDN and nutritionist at Rainbow Light and Natural Vitality Calm.” They also serve as a great vehicle for your favorite spreads to round out snacks like nut butter, hummus, guacamole, eggs, tuna, or chicken salad, salmon with some cream cheese or cottage cheese.
Sakara Life Beauty Super Bar
The claim: Sakara Life Beauty Super Awesome is said to be made with a patent-pending beauty ingredient that has been clinically proven to make skin look clearer, brighter and firmer. They are also known as high-fiber, low-sugar, high-sugar bars.
Here’s what the experts are saying.” “This product blew me away,” says nutrition expert Natalie Smotkin, CNTP. The ingredients are supposed to be clean, but I don’t recommend eating more than one a day because it has 11 grams of sugar per bar. According to research on this product, you have to eat a stick every day for 8-12 weeks to achieve ‘glowing skin’. You’re better off eating real, whole, natural fruits and vegetables that help balance your hormones, which in turn brightens your skin. This product, and seemingly the brand as a whole, seems to be exploiting and perpetuating women’s insecurities and devaluing the true definition of health. From their product it says ‘I lost 5 pounds in 2 weeks!’ With the testimonials, I can conclude that this company is not in the health business, but is using unrealistic expectations to lure people into buying their products.”
VERDICT: It’s not necessarily unhealthy! But it has unrealistic goals!
The claim: “Right Rice” is a plant-based grain.Right Rice is marketed as a plant-based grain that has the same taste and feel as traditional white rice, but with more than twice the protein content and five times the fiber content of white rice.
Here’s what the experts are saying.” Right Rice solves the problem of widespread nutrient deficiency in rice by adding more fiber, protein and lowering net carbohydrates.” Smotkin said.” These ingredients are simple, clean and natural and are perfect for any meal. The caveat to right rice is for those who don’t digest legumes well, as it uses chickpeas and lentils in its proprietary blend.”
The main idea: PB2 is a substitute for nut butters with fewer calories and fat.
Here’s what the experts are saying.” “If you’re a true nut lover, and you’ve tried Pb2, you may be disappointed with the low-fat, low-calorie alternative because it’s a little chalky and hard to produce the same creamy consistency,” says Jen Silverman, a nutritionist and overall health coach. However, for 60 calories and 1.5 grams of fat, compared to 190 calories and 16 grams of fat in real nut butter, I think that’s a win!” She said. Add to smoothies and spread on bread, cookies or fruit.Pb2 is a great flavor pairing, but because it’s significantly lower in fat and calories, it won’t fill you up like nuts or real nut butter.”
VERDICT: Healthy, not as good as real nut butter, but healthy nonetheless!
Claim: Lily’s Sweets markets itself as a stevia chocolate that’s better for you.
Here’s what the experts say “Is Lily’s lower in sugar than a regular chocolate bar? Yes. Is it more beneficial to you? No!” Silverman said, “Lily’s uses erythink chocolate.” Lily’s uses erythritol, a sugar alcohol that can cause digestive problems such as diarrhea and other negative health outcomes. I encourage clients to eat dark chocolate (85% cocoa) instead. Not only is it lower in sugar, but it’s also higher in antioxidants.”
PROPOSITION: Smart Sweets markets itself as a high-fiber fudge with stevia that contains no sugar alcohols or any artificial ingredients.
Experts say, “If you get fiber from fudge or candy, we have a serious problem.” “If you get fiber from fudge or candy, we have a serious issue to discuss,” Silverman said. Smart Sweets may have 22 grams of fiber, but that doesn’t come with a problem. I’ve heard countless stories of people experiencing abdominal pain, diarrhea and other digestive issues. Candy is what it is, C-A-N-N-D-Y, and anyone who tells you differently is wrong.”
Conclusion: may cause stomach pain!
Claim: Caulipower is marketed to make your favorite foods better – and better for you.
Here’s what the experts are saying.” Because of the cauliflower, I think it would have a nutritional advantage over a regular pizza made with refined dough, but this pizza is only slightly lower in calories and carbs compared to a traditional frozen pizza. In fact, I think a whole grain crust with lots of vegetables would be the healthiest option. “I don’t like meat that is nitrate-free,” said Hillary Cecere, MS, who eats Clean Brothers’ RDN.
VERDICT: A little healthy!
Trader Joe’s has everything but bagel sesame seasoning mix
The main idea: Except for the bagel seasoning, all the other ingredients are simple and can add color and flavor to the dish.
Here’s what the experts are saying.” “This seasoning blend is a low-calorie way to add flavor,” says Cecere. It does contain sodium – 80 milligrams per 1/4 teaspoon, but I think just a sprinkle on an egg, avocado or whole grain toast is totally a healthy way to add flavor.”
Verdict: Healthy enough!
Daily Harvest Point.
Claims. Tian Tian Harvest Bite Slices sells on the market as sweet bites filled with good ingredients.
What the experts say. Weight loss expert Gladys Ditroia says, “This product has a list of benign ingredients, but people seem to forget that healthy foods have calories too.” A seven-bite serving has a whopping 630 calories, the equivalent of three Snickers bars!”
Verdict: Healthy, but very high in calories!
MAIN: Holo Top markets itself as a low calorie alternative to traditional ice cream.
Here’s what the experts are saying.” “It’s definitely a good low-calorie alternative to regular ice cream, but I don’t really like erythritol, which is an alcohol used to sweeten Halo Top,” says Ditroia. Over the years, I’ve had many clients indulge in low-calorie ice cream every night, many claiming to have stomach problems such as bloating, gas and stomach aches.”
The conclusion is: “Low in calories, but may cause stomach problems. Low in calories, but can cause stomach pain!