Special Report

20 Foods and Drinks You Only Think Are Healthy

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1. Fruit canned in syrup

Eating fruit is great for your health but when you shop for canned fruit, be watchful about what you buy, said Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area. “If a fruit is canned in ‘light syrup’ or ‘heavy syrup,’ sugar has been added to the fruit.” Because fruit is plenty sweet on its own, you don’t need any added sugar with it, she explained. Read the ingredient label to make sure it contains nothing but fruit. “Fruit canned in 100% juice or water is your best bet,” Gorin added.

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2. Low-fat peanut butter

The healthy fats in nuts and nut butter — specifically the nut butters that don’t have added sugar or fillers — can benefit your health. “Make sure to read the label when you’re buying peanut butter,” Gorin said. At the same time, she warned against buying low-fat peanut butter. “When fat is removed, extra sugar and filler ingredients are added,” she said.

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3. Margarine

You might think that margarine is a healthy alternative to butter but many versions out there contain trans fat in the form of partially hydrogenated oil. Trans fats can raise your “bad” LDL cholesterol, lower good-for-you HDL cholesterol, and heighten your risk of heart disease, Gorin noted. “Instead of margarine, try using a small amount of a heart-healthy oil, such as extra-virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil.”

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4. Juice cocktail

“This beverage can fool you,” Gorin said. When you’re reaching for juice, opt for 100% juice. Why? “The word ‘cocktail’ indicates that a juice is mixed with added sugar, which is unnecessary and adds extra calories to your day,” she added. As is the case with most drinks, some juices are better than others. And people at risk of heart disease may want to stock up in this kind.

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5. Sugar-free products

These are full of artificial sweeteners, Rivera said. “Sometimes artificial sweeteners can help reduce sugar consumption and may be lower in calories,” she added. She also noted that for some weight-loss clients, sugar-free products might be trigger foods and set off binge eating. When trying to lose weight or just be overall healthy it is best to stick with whole and less processed foods, she noted. And don’t even think diet soda is healthier: These are at least 10 ways drinking diet soda could be killing you.