Dietribes / Flavour of the Week

Exposing “Healthy” Foods – Part Deux

In our first Exposing “Healthy” Foods we revealed the less marketed highlights of commercial smoothies, cauliflower-enhanced Kraft Dinner ®, veggie chips, Nutella ® and sugar-coated granola cereals.

In addition to the bagels, granola bars, commercial muffins and innumerable others out there masquerading as “healthy” options, here’s another batch of foods that may be marketed as healthy alternatives, but are really not a whole lot better than their “unhealthy” counterparts.

We plan on continuing to expose these “healthy” foods, so please leave us a note in the comment section if you have any other foods you would like to see in future posts. With no further ado, here are the culprits this time around…

Faux Water and Fancy Soft Drinks

Our rule of thumb when it comes to beverages – if sugar appears in the top three ingredients, you are essentially drinking a soft drink. Both Vitamin Water ® and San Pellegrino ® are no different; they are soft drinks in shiny sheep’s clothing. Vitamin Water may contain slightly less sugar per serving (120 calories per 591 ml bottle) but no one would think Pepsi ® was any healthier if vitamins were added to it, so why would sugar water with vitamins be any different?

As for San Pellegrino… yes, it does contain between 3 and 17% fruit juice (from concentrate) depending on the flavour you purchase, but when you put the nutrition facts up against Sprite ®, they are NO different…

per 355 ml

Calories 140
Fat 0 g
Sodium 65 mg
Carbohydrate 38 g
Sugars 38 g
Protein 0 g

The other thing that bugs us? If San Pellegrino contains fruit juice, how does it NOT contain any vitamin C? Hint: heavy processing. If it walks like pop, talks like pop and tastes like pop… it’s pop.

No Baloney’s advice. Limit intakes of these sugar sweetened beverages by reading the label carefully and ignoring every other advertising claim on the bottle. Carefully check the servings sizes as well; it’s rare that the nutritional information is provided for the full bottle. Water is the best zero calorie drink. Try adding your favourite tea, a squeeze of lemon or a splash (small) of juice for a bit of flavour.


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Made famous by Jared Fogle’s inspiring 245 lbs weight loss, Subway ® is still milking the “healthy” press and cashing in.

Though we have to give them credit for posting information on reduced fat, calorie and sodium choices… there are still a lot of lurking “unhealthy” aspects about their “eat fresh” sub sandwiches. Did you know that the tuna sub contains 50% more calories than the roasted chicken, ham, turkey or roast beef? That’s due to all of the mayonnaise added to the tuna mix BEFORE you add your own condiments.

A 6” turkey on 9-Grain Wheat with cheese, light mayo, mustard and fully loaded with veggies gives you only 365 calories but a whopping 1,310 mg sodium (the condiment combo alone of cheese, mayo, mustard, olives, pickles and jalapenos provides 690 mg of sodium). Compared with the new 12” Meatball Pepperoni Melt’s 1,200 calories and 3,120 mg sodium when totally PLAIN, the turkey isn’t looking so bad!

No Baloney’s advice. Limit yourself to a 6” – a footlong provides that same number of carbs as ~ 6 slices of bread. The 9-Grain Wheat is your best choice from a fibre and sodium perspective. We really do suggest the roasted chicken to save on nitrates and sodium, but the turkey and roast beef are decent lower-calorie options too. Choose condiments like mustard over the “cheese” and try to load with veggies, but watch the aforementioned olives, pickles and peppers to limit salt.

Sweetened Dried Fruit

“Nature’s Candy” is a good way of describing sugar-sweetened dried fruit like Craisins ® and their ilk. The issue with dried fruit is not that it’s high in sugar (which it is), but that much of it is sugar sweetened to boot. Sweetened culprits tend to be naturally tart fruits like cranberries and blueberries, but also those added to many cereals tend to get a brush with sugar syrup too.

From Craisins ® packaging: “Tastes good. Good for you.

  • Made with real fruit
  • Fat & cholesterol free
  • No artificial colours, flavours or preservatives
  • Nut free, gluten free”

The Fruit d’Or ® organic version claims to be made “without added sugar”… but the second ingredient is “organic apple juice concentrate”. Umm, pretty sure that’s still sugar! The Nutrition Facts certainly don’t dispute this:

Per 1/3 cup (40 g)

Craisins   VS Fruit d’Or
130 Calories 140
 0 g  Fat 0 g
 0 mg  Sodium 20 mg
33 g Carbohydrate 32 g
3 g Fibre 2 g
26 g Sugars 25 g
0 g Protein 0 g
0% Calcium 2%
0% Iron 2%

Interestingly, both dried cranberries contain ZERO vitamin C. A 46 g portion of raw cranberries contains 6.2 mg of vitamin C (or 10% daily value), which is lost in processing as it is in the San Pellegrino above.

No Baloney’s advice. Dried fruit can be a great snack – high in fibre and (usually) vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, a daily serving of raisins may help reduce blood pressure. But dried fruit is a bit of a calorie bomb because it is concentrated, so watch your portions. Stick with ¼ cup of unsweetened dried fruit, like apricots, raisins and figs, which are good sources of iron and calcium, respectively. We like unsulphured options too – dried apples should not be a pristine white. No need to search for “cholesterol-free” either – if it comes from a plant and has no animal ingredients, it’s already free of cholesterol!

That’s all for this episode! Remember, if you want to see any “healthy” foods exposed in future posts leave us a note in the comments section.


3 thoughts on “Exposing “Healthy” Foods – Part Deux

  1. Pingback: TGIF | No Baloney

  2. Pingback: Exposing “Healthy” Foods | No Baloney

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