Foods that only seem healthy: Don't be fooled

There are certain foods we all know to avoid when trying to lose weight or eat healthy. But there are others we may believe are the right way to go that actually aren't as good for us as commonly thought.

And on "The Early Show" Wednesday, registered dietician Cynthia Sass, author of "Cinch! Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches," spotlighted several such choices.


The label may shout "fat free" and seem like a better alternative to chips, but most pretzels are made with refined white flour stripped of its vitamins and antioxidants. They're also dense so they pack a ton of carb calories for a very small amount and they're not filling. Think of it this way - one 15 oz bag contains the equivalent of 24 slices of white bread. If you really want pretzels, look for ones made from whole grains like 100% whole wheat or oat or choose popcorn instead - 3 cups popped counts as a serving of whole grains and provides less than 100 calories.

Energy bars

Many energy bars enjoy a health food halo but are actually are loaded with added sugar and artificial ingredients. And in terms of carbs, protein and fat most pack the equivalent of turkey sandwich with mayo, which most people don't realize. Unless you're using them as a meal replacement and choosing bars with all natural ingredients this addiction can easily be keeping you a size or two heavier than you want to be. If you do choose to go with an energy bar, look for bars made only with fruit and nuts without added sugar or artificial ingredients or pack an Altoids tin with almonds and dried fruit.


Traditional sushi rolls made with steamed rice, ultra lean fish and veggies provide about 200 calories per roll, but "new wave" sushis are being made with high fat, high calorie ingredients, including, creamy sauces, fatty meats, fried items, and even cheeses. Many rolls easily pack 500 or more calories. One tempura roll packs 542 calories and a dragon roll contains 520. That's more than a quarter pound with cheese burger, and calorie-wise, the max for what most of us need per meal (just for one roll!). Instead of rolls order a combo of appetizers and sides like seared tuna, edamame, seaweed salad, and steamed brown rice.

Turkey Club sandwich

It seems like a healthier choice than a burger, but the cheese, bacon and mayo are a recipe for weight gain, packing up to 800 calories - without the side of chips. That's the calorie equivalent of 2 McDonald's hamburgers and a 6 piece chicken nuggets. For a healthy alternative, instead of a turkey club, order grilled chicken breast on a whole wheat bun but ditch the cheese, creamy sauce and bacon and load it up with lettuce, tomato, onion and avocado.

Sugar-free candy

5 sugar free mini Peanut Butter Cups have 180 cals, 13 g fat and 27 g carbs. 5 regular minis contain 210 calories, 12 g fat and 22 g of carbs. And, 1 sugared cocoa Dunkin Donut is 200 cals, 11 g fat and 23 g carbs! Going sugar-free, you save a mere 30 calories, but take in more fat and about as many carbs as 2 slices of bread! And that's not all -- the sugar alcohols used in place of sugar can cause bloating and diarrhea! Bottom line: Sugar-free isn't calorie free and doesn't mean a green light to eating more. Instead go for the dark chocolate and savor it -- it's antioxidant rich and research shows it can reduce cravings for both sweet and salty foods.

Frozen yogurt

It may be lower in calories and fat than hard ice cream, but just a cup (8 oz) of fat free soft serve frozen yogurt packs 40 grams of sugar, the amount in 4 (single stick) frozen popsicles. It also tends to be less satisfying, which means you may eat twice as much or more - a half cup of Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia is 250 calories but a cup of Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia frozen yogurt has 340 calories. Instead of getting frozen yogurt, go for an all natural ice cream but make it a "reverse sundae" - a bowl loaded up with fresh fruit with a small 1/2 cup scoop of ice cream on top.