Americans are battling an obesity epidemic unparalleled in human history. More than one-third of us are obese, and we've handed the problem down to the next generation: Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years.
Making smart food choices is the best defense. But misconceptions persist about foods that are healthy—when they're not.
Click through to see which items don't live up to the hype.
Photo: Getty Images/Alex Cao
Bran may have more fiber than other cereal grains, but let's get real: A bran muffin is essentially a miniature cake. For example, Coffee Bean’s Honey Raisin Bran Muffin is 540 calories and contains 24 grams of fat.
Photo: Rita Maas/Getty Images
Peanut Butter (Processed Brands)
Yes, peanut butter is full of fat, but some of those fats are good for your heart. The bigger issue is trans fats. While some major processed brands have replaced trans fat with palm oil, trace amounts of trans fats remain. (By using small serving sizes on the label, brands can claim there is no trans fat in their product.)
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Though tuna's packed with protein, it also contains high levels of mercury. These tasty fish are one of largest in the oceans—bluefin tunafor instance, can grow up to 15 feet long and weight 1,500 pounds—and because tuna are high up on the food chain, tuna accumulate a greater concentration of mercury and other heavy metals just from eating other fish. Consumer Reports found canned tuna, especially white tuna, to be high in mercury and recommends young children and pregnant women reduce their consumption to less than 2.5 ounces per day.
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Ramen looks innocent enough, but one bowl gives you a full daily intake of fat and sodium. A package of popular brand Maruchan packs 14 grams of fat and 1540 milligrams of sodium into its 380 calories.
Photo: EdKohler/Creative Commons via Flickr
Yogurt-Covered Granola Bars
Though a yogurt-covered granola bar sounds like an ideal breakfast on the go, read the small print. Nature Valley’s Chewy Yogurt Bars are covered with a “naturally flavored yogurt coating” —which means they’re more or less granola bars covered in yogurt-flavored frosting. Nature Valley’s yogurt-frosting creation contains 4 grams of fat, 14 grams of sugar, and a paltry 2 grams of protein in each bar.
Photo: Tim Boyle/Getty Images
With the exception of vitamin C, fruit snacks have no positive nutritional value. Most brands don't even contain a drop of real fruit. Simpsons Fruit Snacks have 100 calories, 24 grams of carbohydrates, and 17 grams of sugar. Sorry, folks—that's candy.
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Electrolytes sodium and potassium are plentiful in Gatorade, but its sugar content makes the drink unhealthy for regular consumption. A 32-ounce bottle of original Gatorade packs a total of 56 grams of sugar. Too few people realize a bottle contains four serving sizes.
Photo: betsyweber/Creative Commons via Flickr
Yes, they've got protein and carbs, but unfortunately these snacks are more like candy bars with added protein. A healthy protein bar should have less than 10 grams of sugar per 100 calories and a protein-to-carbohydrate ratio between 1:1 and 2:1. But some brands, like Promax Cookies and Cream, contain 30 grams of sugar in their 270 total calories.
Andrew Freeman is a California native with a degree in history from UCLA. He’s covered a wide range of topics for TakePart, but is particularly interested in politics and policy. Email Andrew |@natureofdabeast | TakePart.com