I have to admit it -- I am a sucker for "natural" food packaging. My eyes get drawn to the earth-tone colors of the labels with the words "natural," "high fiber," "Good source of antioxidants," or other healthy-sounding terms. However, the dietitian in me knows never to judge a book by its cover. The manufacturers know that people are looking for healthier options and they are getting pretty amazing with their packaging descriptions. At least in grocery stores we have the option to read the food label. In restaurants and coffee shops, we are dependent on the descriptions we see and what we assume to be a healthy choice.
Here are a few seemingly healthy food choices that might not be so healthy after all.
1.) Starbucks Low Fat Blueberry Muffin. Now... my point in all of this is not to pick on specific venues -- you can find things like this in all coffee shops, but I wanted to use this particular one as an example. The low fat muffin at Starbucks has 430 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, and a whopping 57 grams of sugar. The "regular" blueberry muffin at Starbucks has fewer calories (380), along with 19 grams of fat, and 28 grams of sugar. So, yes, this is a low fat muffin, but if you are watching your weight it isn't going to do you any good because it has more calories and sugar. When a product is replaces fat with sugar, it doesn't become healthier.
Suggestion: Skip eating coffee shop pastries on a regular basis. Have one as a special treat once or twice a month if you really love them.
2.) Jamba Juice Aloha Pineapple Power. Fruit smoothie and juice bars can be confusing. After all, it is fruit with protein powders added -- what could be more healthy than that? It is true that fruits are good for you and that you can get a lot of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants out of the juices. However, a serving size of fruit juice is 6 ounces, not 30 ounces. Juice is processed, so there is very little fiber left in it, so you end up consuming a lot of sugar all at once. Sure, it is natural sugar, but it still breaks down quickly and can cause significant increases in blood sugar and insulin. Not to mention the excess calories. This particular juice drink has 650 calories and 142 grams of sugar -- that's 3/4 of a cup sugar. You could consume the same amount of calories (650) by eating an entire meal of 4 ounces of chicken, 1 cup of rice, a large salad with dressing, and a chocolate chip cookie. That's a lot of calories in one drink.