A top Australian nutritionist has issued a warning about four ‘healthy’ foods that are commonly overeaten, leading to weight gain, blood sugar spikes and a host of other complaints.
Susie Burrell says many unknowingly overindulge in dried fruit, smoothies and popped chips, believing them to be lower in calories, sugar and fat than they really are.
The Sydney dietitian, who is the founder of the Shape Me meal plan, analysed the nutritional value of these snacks along with brown rice and so-called ‘healthy’ dips in a blog post for 9Honey’s Coach fitness page.
‘Despite something looking, sounding and even tasting ‘healthy’, sometimes the actual nutritional profile of the food means we still need to be mindful of the amounts we’re eating,’ Ms Burrell wrote.
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Crackers and popped chips
Traditional potato chips have been overtaken by ‘healthier’ versions in recent years, with fried snacks falling by the wayside in favour of baked or popped versions.
One serving from an average bag of popped chips contains between 120 and 130 calories, 4.25 grams of fat and 1.2 grams of sugar.
That’s against roughly 160 calories, 10 grams of fat and 1 gram of sugar for a single serve of traditional snack chips such as Pringles and Cheetos.
But while they may be lower in fat and calories than their classic counterparts, popped chips have little to no nutritional value, Ms Burrell warns.
Marketing focused on their low calorie content also leads many to eat whole bags at a time, something you would be less inclined to do with fried chips.
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Smoothies may be mixed from nutrient-rich foods like fruit, nuts and natural yoghurt, but that doesn’t make them a healthy or balanced choice, Ms Burrell cautions.
With as much as 800 calories and a whopping 80 grams of sugar per serve, smoothies can catapult you over your recommended daily intake coupled with just one other meal.
If you can’t kick the habit, Ms Burrell advises ordering the smallest size or making your own at home with just three to four ingredients to keep calorie and sugar count low.
‘Remember the smoothie is the meal, not a drink to complement the meal,’ she added.
Despite being stocked in the organic or health food aisles of most supermarkets, Ms Burrell warns dried fruit is bursting with calories and concentrated sugars.
One piece of fresh fruit contains 15 to 50 grams of sugar plus three grams of dietary fibre, while a tiny 30 gram portion of dried fruit – sultanas or dates, for example – has at least many calories and much less fibre.
As Ms Burrell notes, healthier baked goods or protein bars made with dried fruit are not always low in sugar, meaning it’s better to opt for whole fresh fruits that have a higher water content to keep sugar intake lower and leave you fuller for longer.
Although brown rice has what Ms Burrell describes as a ‘stronger nutritional profile’ than white, she says it is still has a high calorie and carbohydrate content – not to mention how easy it is to lose control of portion size.
A single cup of cooked brown rice contains 40 grams of carbs – that’s the equivalent of three to four slices of white bread.
Snacks that appear healthy, such as sushi, are actually laced with calories primarily because of the volume of rice used to wrap the filling.
A typical order of six sushi pieces – or one large roll – contains anything from 250 to 375 calories.