10 ‘health’ foods to avoid in 2024

Coach Kannan
January 10,2023

Have you ever heard about healthy junk food? Apart from a prominent variety of junk foods, including pizzas, burgers, chips, and soft drinks, another category is considered unhealthy. This is junk food that is marketed as healthy food. This makes them ‘health’ foods to avoid.

We live in a world where we are being sold something all the time. And food is one of the most heavily marketed products. The most popular trend right now is to add a health factor to foods. This means that you will see eye-catching packaging with the right words to make you think that the food is healthy for you. As a result, finding the real healthy and nutritious choices for your diet has become more complex than ever. 

This is especially difficult when it comes to healthy snacks. Companies use appealing product labels, even on junk foods, to grab your attention. That’s why identifying so-called healthy but junk foods is essential to make healthier choices in your routine diet.

What is junk food in disguise?

Be aware of false health claims when developing healthy eating habits. In the grocery stores, you will see many products with attractive labels, leading you to believe that they’re healthy. But a plethora of food marketed as “healthy” is really junk food labeled with misleading claims. This article will help you identify 10 so-called healthy foods that are really junk foods.

Also Read: Junk Food Effect on your Body?

10 so-called healthy foods that are actually junk foods

1. Most commercial salad dressings

Vegetables are among the most nutritious foods to keep your body in optimal health. But the problem is that vegetables need to taste better. We would all love to eat more salads if they could taste better and maybe a bit more spicy!

In order to do this, many people prefer commercial salad dressings to improve the taste of their salads.

But it may have more negative effects than positive. Many salad dressings have a high content of sugar, salt and fats, making them more like junk food. This can effectively undo the health benefits of having the vegetables. Creamy and mayo-based salad dressing are examples of such dressings that you should avoid. Instead, use olive oil and herbs to add flavor to your salad.


2. Fruit juices, which are just liquid sugar

It is no secret that adults and kids love drinking fruit juices. Parents think that these juices are healthy because they come from fruits. But fruit juices from grocery stores often have added food coloring, flavors, and other additives. In addition, most fruit juice is made from concentrate and not fresh fruit.

junk food in disguise

A study in the US examined 45 fruit juices of different flavors. The report highlighted that more than half of the juices had elevated levels of lead that could cause neurodevelopmental problems in children. 

The concentrated sugar and calories of fruit juices can lead to weight gain and obesity. Eating the fruit is a better option as you get less sugar, more fiber and it is hard to overeat the fruit.


3. Health bars / Energy bars

Health bars are a popular option and are heavily marketed as a way to satisfy your mid-day or evening snack cravings. They are very attractive as a quick and convenient option that you can carry with you.

junk food in disguise

The reality is that most health bars are sugary treats. They contain sugars from different sources, high-calorie ingredients like nuts and additives, sweeteners and food coloring. Most of these ingredients are added to enhance the flavor of the health bars and give them a longer shelf life.

Such health bars become an easy way to add more calories to your day and may not really satisfy your hunger either. The added ingredients are also not healthy. Choose whole foods like fruit or unprocessed snacks like makhana as healthier snack options.


4. Premade smoothies

Homemade fruit, green, and protein smoothies are ideal for giving your body an additional energy dose. But pre-made smoothies available in supermarkets can be high-sugar and have added ingredients and preservatives that are not really necessary. Many such drinks will be marketed as healthy but the reality is that they will have a high-sugar content, sometimes via apple juice. This is an easy way to have a high-sugar diet without even knowing it.

Instead, make your smoothies at home using a combination of vegetables and fruit. You will minimize the sugar content, get more fiber and avoid any added ingredients and preservatives.


5. Most processed breakfast cereals / muesli

Breakfast is big business and cereals are claimed to be a healthy breakfast option. However, they contain a high amount of refined carbs and high content of sugar and added ingredients, having an unhealthy effect on your health.

Studies highlight that people who overeat processed cereals have a higher risk of developing chronic diseases.


The high carb and sugar content of breakfast cereals can also spike your blood sugar levels and create a vicious cycle of cravings and overeating for the rest of the day.


Muesli is another popular food that is heavily marketed as a healthy breakfast choice. The reality is that most commercial muesli are a sugary & oily version of oats. Read the ingredients of any of them and you’ll realize what really is in it and how it’s not what the packaging claims on the front.

Plain oats and cereal is a far healthier choice.



6. Energy drinks (including diet soda)

The prime objective of energy drinks is to give your body an instant energy boost. This is usually achieved by a combination of high amounts of sugar and some caffeine.


It is not uncommon for a single can of energy drink to have more than 5 spoons of sugar.


Not surprisingly, studies suggest that large amounts of caffeine, sugars, and additives in energy drinks can increase heart rate and blood pressure. They contribute to a high-sugar, high-calorie and unhealthy diet that leads to gaining harmful fat and contributes to lifestyle diseases like diabetes.

The high sugar content of energy drinks can also contribute to dental problems.

Also Read: Why should you Avoid Junk Food?


7. Nut butters

It is no secret that nut butter like peanut butter and almond butter is a delicious and crunchy snack to satisfy your mid-day or evening snack cravings. 

But not all nut butter contains healthy ingredients. Many nut butters come with added salt, sugar and oils. These are added to improve their taste, mixability and shelf life. They make the already high calorie content of these butters even higher and take away from the healthy properties of the nut butter.


Even in their purest form, nut butters are an easy way to eat a lot of calories without realizing it.


Overeating nut butter can hinder metabolic health, promote inflammation, and make it harder for you to attain a healthier body mass index (BMI). As a result, they are one of the health foods to avoid. Eating the whole nuts in an unflavoured form is a healthier option as you will be able to limit the total amount of nuts you have.



8. Flavored yogurt


Curd or yogurt is a great option for a healthy snack. Flavored yogurt might seem like just a tastier form of this and therefore an easy choice for a healthy snack. But you need to realize that they are really closer to desserts given their high sugar content. This is true for plain curd as well as greek yogurt.


Most companies add a hefty amount of sugar and food flavorings to their flavored yogurt products to improve taste and extend shelf life, making them unhealthy.


This makes it one of the ‘health foods’ to avoid. A healthier option is to flavor curd at home yourself with some fruit – like chopped banana or apple and maybe top it with a few nuts or seeds. This is also much more cost-effective than buying flavored yogurt from stores and tastier too.


9. Premade protein shakes

Homemade protein shakes are ideal for giving your body an additional dose of protein, boosting energy levels throughout the day. Premade protein shakes can seem like a convenient option to get more protein into your diet.

In reality, they contain high amounts of sugar, added ingredients and preservatives. These can end up causing you to consume more calories per day and can also cause digestive issues like bloating.


A healthier option is to buy the protein powder in its pure form and mix it yourself in water, milk or curd.


This way you will get the goodness of extra protein without the added sugar, artificial ingredients and preservatives. It’s quick, tasty and cost-effective too.

protein powder protein shake


10. Processed ‘low-fat’ and ‘fat-free’ food

This is a general category meant to alert you to the misleading labeling of foods as ‘low-fat’ or ‘fat-free’ to make them seem healthier. Low-fat foods are also one of those foods marketed as healthy but in most cases are unhealthy.


Just because a food is labeled as “fat-free” or “low fat” does not mean it is more nutritious for your health.


Most brands replace fat with sugar and vegetable oils in their fat-free food items, making them unhealthier than their full-fat counterparts. In many cases, you may be better off with the full fat option as that will keep you fuller for a longer time while the lower fat option will make you hungry fast.

Also Read: Healthy Snacks For Weight Loss

How to avoid healthy junk food in your diet?

Learning the difference between foods that are healthy and unhealthy is vital to healthy eating choices. Think about the foods you commonly eat and use the list in this article to identify the so-called ‘health foods’ to avoid. This will help you understand what you should eat in your daily routine to stay healthy and help you with weight loss.

The bottom line

With an array of unhealthy foods labeled “healthy,” it becomes difficult to ensure a properly balanced diet in your daily routine. Identifying the difference between healthy and junk food is vital to ensure mindful and healthy eating. Use the guidelines in this article to identify health foods to avoid. Our guide on ten healthy foods that are junk will help you avoid healthy junk foods and live a healthier life.

About the Author

Coach Kannan
Kannan is a Precision Nutrition & ISSA Certified Nutrition Coach and a ACE-Certified Behavior Change Specialist. Kannan focuses on ideas that are scientific and also work in the real world. He is allergic to advice that is unscientific or not practical.

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