If you think granola bars are healthy alternatives to junky snack foods, you’re not alone.
According to survey results, more than 70 percent of average Americans think granola bars are healthy. Nutritionists, meanwhile, have other ideas. Fewer than 30 percent of nutritionists surveyed* said granola bars were healthy. Basically, nutritionists considered them to be about as healthy as burgers and pizza. The culprit? Added sugars. Granola bars often include lots of sugar. Take a peek at the labels, and you’ll see.
For your delectation, here are a few other foods that nutritionists rated as healthier than granola bars. There are some real surprises here. But bear in mind, if 60 percent of nutritionists are calling a food healthy, that still leaves 40 percent who aren’t — which points out that unanimous agreement in nutrition is hard to come by. With that in mind…
About 70 percent of nutritionists said wine was healthy when…wait for it…consumed in moderation. Among other benefits, wine may offer protection against heart disease. From the Harvard School of Public Health’s Nutrition Source: “Red wine may contain…substances in addition to alcohol that could prevent blood clots, relax blood vessel walls, and prevent the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, ‘bad’ cholesterol), a key early step in the formation of cholesterol-filled plaque.”
Sixty percent of nutritionists gave popcorn props for being healthy. It’s low calorie and has lots of fiber. But, uh, don’t reach for the caramel corn. The healthiest popcorn you make at home, where you can control the salt and butter. If you’re buying packaged pre-popped popcorn, watch out for added sugars and partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredients list.
3) Baked Potatoes
About 70 percent of nutritionists said baked potatoes were healthy. But if you want truly healthy baked potatoes, choose sweet potatoes — the colorful orange kind, which offer high fiber plus carotenoids and vitamins C, B6, and E. Of course, sweet potato or white potato, what you put on top of your baker matters, too.
4) Peanut Butter
Eighty percent of nutritionists described peanut butter as healthy. Which perfectly mirrors the 80 percent of average Americans who said peanut butter was healthy. (1 2 3 jinx, nutritionists! Although don’t demand a soda as jinx payment — essentially zero nutritionists think soda’s healthy.) Peanut butter has lots of healthy protein and good, unsaturated fat, plus vitamins and minerals. But check the labels: Choose brands with no partially hydrogenated fats. Or make your own Homemade Peanut Butter.
Almost 80 percent of nutritionists said corn was healthy. A nice show of support for America’s biggest crop. An ear of corn actually has less sugar and about the same amount of calories as an apple (apples, incidentally and unsurprisingly, were everyone’s — both nutritionists and regular Americans — near unanimous pick for the healthy column). Fresh corn is also a good source of fiber and vitamins B and C. The corn to avoid comes in its heavily processed forms — like packaged foods containing high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and sweetened, highly refined cereals and salty snacks.
Eggs were way, way up there, in apples and kale and olive oil territory. The percentage of nutritionists who considered eggs healthy was in the upper 90s. Eggs are a “perfect” protein; they contain vitamins A, D (in the yolk), and B-vitamins, plus minerals and antioxidants. What’s more, a large egg has just 70 calories. And cholesterol? As The New York Times reported: “decades of research [shows] that dietary cholesterol has little or no effect on the blood cholesterol levels of most people.”
Wait, butter!? Well, OK, 40 percent of nutritionists said butter was healthy. So while not a majority, it’s still a bigger and butterier percentage than the 30 percent who were willing to call granola bars healthy. Even so, most nutrition sources recommend replacing butter with healthy unsaturated fats like olive oil. In an article for TIME magazine, Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, the author of a new study on the health effects of butter, summed it up like this: “Vegetable oils and fruits and nuts are healthier than butter, but on the other hand, low-fat turkey meat or a bagel or cornflakes or soda is worse for you than butter.”