5 Supposedly Healthy Snacks With More Calories Than a Big Mac
A granola bar between breakfast and lunch; a handful of flaxseed chips while driving home; a bag of trail mix aftter dinner while you’re watching TV. People are snacking more than ever—a 2013 survey found that 48 percent of Americans skip at least three traditional meals per week in favor of grabbable munchies—and even if those snacks seem healthy, the calories can add up quickly and without warning.
So, Why Should You Care? It seems like news comes out every day announcing the latest American food company to remove artificial colors, preservatives, or genetically modified ingredients from its products. But despite consumers clamoring for more “healthy” food, obesity rates are as high as ever, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One of the contributing factors may be all those hidden calories hiding out in those supposedly healthy products. Although calories are not the only measure of a food’s worth—no one is advocating you eating 530 calories of Big Mac rather than 530 calories of brown rice—excessive consumption of them remains one of the strongest causal links to obesity. A study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association in January 2012 concluded that “calories alone account for the increase in fat.”
You would never eat a 530-calorie Big Mac before a meal—so why would you eat 530 calories’ worth of anything else? These five seemingly healthy snacks could be breaking your diet without you knowing it.
Large Strawberry Surfrider Smoothie: 590 Calories
Don’t be fooled by the fruit-forward name—Jamba Juice’s 28-ounce jumbo offering boasts 128 grams of sugar from its lemonade base and heaping scoop of lime sherbert. Not all smoothies are created equally healthy.
Sabra Hummus, 1 Cup: 560 Calories
Hummus is typically synonymous with health, especially when fresh veggies sit in for fried, carb-heavy chips. And it’s certainly no secret that hummus is calorically dense—the two main ingredients are typically chickpeas and olive oil (though oil is used solely as a garnish in traditional Israeli hummus)—but what people might not know is that big hummus brands typically use cheaper oils to save money. Sabra’s recipe exclusively uses soybean oil, which has seven times less monounsaturated fat—recognized by the American Heart Association as beneficial for cardiovascular health—than olive oil.
Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato Chips, 4 Ounces: 560 Calories
The packaging may look cool and minimalist, and these chips may have “sweet potato” in their name, but the ingredients list looks suspiciously similar to that of run-of-the-mill, deep-fried tortilla chips (though Food Should Taste Good’s chips are baked before being fried to avoid excess oil absorption). The first two ingredients are stone-ground corn and high-oleic sunflower oil and/or safflower oil and/or canola oil, followed by dried sweet potatoes.
Ben & Jerry’s Raspberry Fudge Chunk Greek Frozen Yogurt, 12 Ounces: 570 Calories
From 2006 to 2011, Greek yogurt sales rose more than 2,500 percent worldwide—and for good reason. The Mediterranean-style yogurt is typically higher in protein and lower in fat than the fruit-at-the-bottom grocery store varieties seen in America, and it’s pretty darn tasty too. But the buzzword has been co-opted to make foods seem healthier than they may actually be. While there are 15 grams of protein in 12 ounces of Ben & Jerry’s Greek Fro-Yo, that comes with 63 grams of sugar.
Kirkland Dried Fruit and Nut Medley, 1 Cup: 540 Calories
All you paleo enthusiasts who love chowing down on fruit and nuts between meals should know that many of those blends contain hidden calories. In the variety bag sold at Costco, every single dried fruit has sugar added, except for the raisins, which are coated in sunflower oil.