35. Nutella

Nutella on pancakes
@lira_n4 / Twenty20

This beloved chocolate spread might be a staple in your pantry, but it really shouldn’t be slapped onto your toast (or eaten straight off a spoon) with regularity.

Just take a look at the ingredients label — the first components listed are sugar and palm oil, even before hazelnuts. Nutella is 58% sugar and 32% fat, says The Guardian.

If you really want that sugar kick in the mornings, consider going with a fruit jam instead. Or make your own hazelnut chocolate spread at home — you can find healthier recipes online, including some vegan and oil-free options.

34. Cup Noodles

Instant noodle cup
@lifechoice.licho / Twenty20

Any college student can tell you instant noodles are quick, convenient and delicious — but health experts say they’re to be avoided.

Nissin’s Cup Noodles contain 1,160 milligrams of sodium and 11 grams of fat (with 5 grams of saturated fat) in each container. That’s over half your recommended daily salt intake, according to the American Heart Association.

You’re better off making your ramen from scratch, with store-bought noodles and a flavorful but nutritious broth with veggies and meats of your choice. It’ll take longer to make, but will probably fill your stomach better than the overly salty instant noodles.

You can make buying your own healthier ingredients even more rewarding using an app called Fetch. Just take a photo of your receipt from any store and you will earn points, rewards and receive special offers

33. Cool Whip

Cool Whip
Mike Mozart / Flickr

Kraft’s Cool Whip might taste like the sweetest and fluffiest of clouds, but it’s not the real deal.

The imitation whipped cream (also called whipped topping) is sold frozen and has a longer shelf life than your traditional whipped cream. But two of its main ingredients include hydrogenated vegetable oil and high fructose corn syrup.

Healthline says hydrogenation creates trans fats, which some studies have associated with heart, blood sugar and inflammatory issues.

High fructose corn syrup is sweeter than sugar and gets absorbed by your body faster.

32. Margarine

I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!
ilovebutter / Flickr

Butter has repeatedly come under fire for its high saturated fat content, but its copycat margarine could be even worse.

While butter is made from animal fat, margarine comes from vegetable oils — which could be solidified through hydrogenation, which in turn produces trans fats. Some margarine brands may also contain emulsifiers, colorants and other additives.

Healthline says most margarine types, like soybean oil-based margarine, are high in polyunsaturated fats. They’re considered much healthier than saturated fat, but they don’t seem to have any significant effect on lowering the risk of death from heart disease.

31. Wonder Classic white bread

Wonder Classic White Bread
Mike Mozart / Flickr

Wonder Classic white bread might pair well with your BLT, but it’s loaded with sugar — 5 grams for every two slices, in fact.

On the other hand, Wonder’s New York rye and whole wheat bread have 1 and 0 grams of sugar respectively for every slice.

Medical News Today says packaged white bread usually contains highly processed flour and additives and eating too much of it can help contribute to obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

White bread has little nutritional value with low amounts of fiber and protein.

30. Kraft singles

Kraft Singles
Martylunsford / Wikimedia Commons

American cheese tastes nowhere near as good as the real thing, but those lurid orange squares were created for convenience.

They get packaged in neat little plastic wrappings so you don’t have to bother cutting a slice yourself (or worrying about their shelf life) and they ooze so delightfully out of a grilled cheese or burger.

Each slice contains 25% calcium, but critics have pointed out the high amount of preservatives and colorants that go into processing the cheese. There’s also 250 milligrams of sodium and 60 calories in a single slice.

29. Spam

@5byseven / Twenty20

The Spam craze really peaked during the World War II era, as it was both cheap and long-lasting, but the canned pork has remained on American store shelves and household pantries for decades since.

Spam is made up of just six ingredients — pork, water, salt, potato starch, sugar and sodium nitrate — but it also contains 790 milligrams of sodium and 16 grams of fat in a single serving.

Some research suggests consuming high levels of sodium nitrate could be linked to diseases such as stomach and pancreatic cancers, heart disease and lymphoma.

28. Pop-Tarts

Pop Tart
Mike Mozart / Flickr

This toasted pastry with its sweet, jelly-like filling, slathered with vanilla frosting and rainbow sprinkles, is more dessert than breakfast.

There are 30 grams of sugar, 9 grams of fat and 370 calories in every two Frosted Strawberry pastries. Ingredients include enriched flour, high fructose corn syrup, soybean and palm oil (with TBHQ), bleached white flour and some artificial colorants.

“Enriched flour” doesn’t mean what you think it does — Forbes says the nutrients get stripped from the flour, leaving you with a sugar spike and crash.

Tert-Butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ, is used to keep foods fresh longer and has been associated with liver enlargement, neurotoxic effects, convulsions and paralysis in studies with lab animals.

27. Kraft macaroni and cheese

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese
Mike Mozart / Flickr

Kraft’s mac ’n’ cheese might no longer be produced with any artificial flavors, dyes or preservatives, but the boxed pasta with powdered cheese still isn’t super healthy for you.

One prepared serving contains over 700 milligrams of sodium, 11 grams of fat and 350 calories and there’s very little fiber or nutrients.

It’s promoted as an easy, microwaveable dinner — which can sway you into making it far more often than you should (or consuming more than one bowl at a time).

A recent class-action lawsuit also alleges that the product contains chemicals that have been linked to asthma, allergies, obesity and hormone interference in children.

26. Frozen pizza

Frozen pizza in oven
@beachbumledford / Twenty20

Carbs, cheese and fat — pizza is delicious, but no one eats pizza for their health. And the frozen kind you can pick up at the grocery store could be even worse.

They’re usually highly processed and contain artificial preservatives, added sugar and unhealthy fats, according to Healthline. They also tend to be quite salty.

For example, one serving of Red Baron’s Classic Crust Pepperoni Pizza is loaded with 18 grams of fat, 8 grams of sugar and 810 milligrams of sodium.

You’re probably better off ordering a fresh pie, or making it yourself at home.

25. Potato chips

@bestravelvideo / Twenty20

Potato chips are bad for you, make no mistake about it. They’re salty and fatty and yet deceptively light — tricking you into eating more and more when you need a small snack.

For example, Lay’s Sour Cream & Onion flavor packs 160 calories, 10 grams of fat and 160 milligrams of sodium for every 28 grams of chips.

Instead of grabbing that bag of chips, buy more fruits and veggies. Some experts also recommend putting your chips in a hard-to-reach place, while placing your healthier snacks close at hand.

24. Chicken nuggets

Chicken nuggets
@frngl / Twenty20

What kid (or adult) doesn’t love their chicken nuggies? The Wall Street Journal once said “few foods are as unhealthy and insidious as the chicken nugget,” for good reason.

50 to 60% of calories in a nugget comes from fat alone, thanks to all the breading and deep-frying and fillers and fats that go into its processing.

White meat, dark meat and chicken skin get ground together to form a sort of pink sludge, while fillers help the stuff retain its shape so it can get breaded and dunked in boiling oil.

Make your own homemade breaded tenders instead — slice your chicken breast into strips, give them a good breading with bread crumbs and flour and then pan fry the chicken on the stove.

23. Lunchables

Lunchables Extra Cheesy Pizza with Kool-Aid Ghoul-Aid
theimpulsivebuy / Flickr

This beloved ’90s “meal” for school kids usually features a few crackers, slices of ham and processed cheese — and a sweet treat for afterwards, of course. It’s since been maligned by health critics for its minimal nutritional value.

In fact, Geoffrey Bible, former C.E.O. of Philip Morris (which was part of Lunchables' parent company Kraft), once told The New York Times that he read an article that said, “If you take Lunchables apart, the most healthy item in it is the napkin.”

Of course, you won’t find a napkin in a Lunchable package anymore — they were later removed for adding to production costs.

22. Sugary cereals

Colorful Breakfast Cereal in Milk with Spoon
@OceanBreeze / Twenty20

You know exactly what we’re talking about. Fruity Pebbles, Lucky Charms, Cap’n Crunch and Cocoa Puffs — these popular breakfast options from your childhood packed enough sugar to get you pumped for school.

One cup of Honey Smacks cereal contains even more sugar than the average glazed doughnut, with 18 grams per serving (this figure increases when you add milk).

Starting your day with a sugary breakfast cereal can increase your blood sugar and insulin levels, making your body crave another high-carb meal once it wears off, according to Healthline.

21. Hot dogs

Home-cooked hotdogs fresh off the grill
@daphneemarie / Twenty20

Like most processed meats, the hot dog is high in saturated fats, which get linked to heart disease. You’d best avoid adding it to your grocery cart, or grabbing one of those $1.50 hot dog/soda combos from the Costco food court.

One Oscar Mayer Classic Beef Uncured hot dog has 360 milligrams of sodium and 12 grams of fat alone — and once you pile all those toppings (who doesn’t love a chilli cheese dog?) you’ll be hurting your body even more.

Some hot dogs may also contain nitrates and nitrites to help lengthen their shelf life, which have been associated with an increased risk of some cancers, according to a BBC report.

20. Pretzels

@Nodar / Twenty20

Simple carbs studded with salt? Pretzels aren’t the healthiest of snacks, even though they’re pretty low in salt and calories.

They’re not even redeemable when you compare them to your traditional “bad” snacks, like potato chips.

“In a side-by-side comparison, 1 ounce of pretzels raised blood sugar higher than 1 ounce of potato chips,” David Grotto, dietician and author of The Best Things You Can Eat, told WebMD.

If you still crave the bite-sized snack but want to watch your salt intake and blood sugar levels, your best bet would either be unsalted or whole wheat pretzels.

19. Smartfood white cheddar popcorn

Smartfood Popcorn
Mike Mozart / Flickr

Don’t let the brand name fool you — you aren’t necessarily making the “smarter” choice by opting for this air-tossed popcorn dusted in white cheddar.

Air-popped popcorn is certainly healthier than steeping your kernels in oil, but that doesn’t mean Smartfood doesn’t add any oil to the snack — vegetable oil is the second ingredient on the list after the corn, just check the back of the bag.

This addictive snack isn’t as sugary as the caramel variety, but it’s still high in sodium and fat. Make your popcorn at home instead with whole corn kernels, but avoid too much butter and salt.

18. Mega Stuf Oreos

An Oreo, a Double Stuf Oreo, and a Mega Stuf Oreo
@chara_stagram_ / Twenty20

OK, Oreos are bad enough — not to mention the Double Stuf iteration — but Mega Stuf takes you to a whole new level, with even more white frosting sandwiched between the two chocolate cookies.

Every two cookies are loaded with 180 calories, 9 grams of fat and 17 grams of sugar. Compare that to regular, old Oreos, which include 160 calories, 7 grams of fat and 14 grams of sugar for every three cookies.

Good luck trying to resist temptation with a packet of Mega Stuf Oreos — Forbes reported in 2013 that Oreos can be as addictive to your brain as cocaine after a study on rats was released.

17. Fruit Roll-Ups

Fruit Roll-Up, Fruit Gusher and Fruit by the Foot
Thomson200 / Wikimedia Commons

This iconic snack isn’t as healthy as it sounds — the sweet strips are fruit-flavored, but don’t actually contain much fruit in them.

One small roll of the Strawberry Sensation type has 7 grams of sugar, and it used to include artificial coloring and flavorings for years before those were phased out.

Just stick with regular fruit. You’ll get far more nutritional value (and reduce your sugar intake) with a container of fresh strawberries instead.

You can add even more value to your grocery trip by using a rewards app called Fetch. Just take a photo of your receipt from any store and you'll earn points toward rewards like gift cards.

16. Cheetos

Orange cheese puffs in a bowl
@Chantelle / Twenty20

The popular cheese snack that leaves orange dust on your fingers every time you stick your hand into the bag includes artificial flavors and colorants.

They’re also incredibly addictive.

Food scientist Steven Witherly told The New York Times in 2013 that the cheese puff’s ability to quickly dissolve in your mouth was part of the problem. “It’s called vanishing caloric density. If something melts down quickly, your brain thinks that there’s no calories in it ... you can just keep eating it forever.”

Eating too much of the Flamin’ Hot variety can also lead to stomach irritation and can cause gastritis or inflammation.

15. Salad dressing

Kraft salad dressing
Mike Mozart / Flickr

There’s nothing wrong with a light balsamic vinaigrette, but you could be undoing all the positive effects of eating your greens by dumping certain kinds of store-bought salad dressing all over it.

Harvard Health Publishing says bottled dressings are often rich in saturated fat, calories, sodium and added sugar. Think Thousand Island, Three Cheese or Buffalo Ranch.

Caesar salads are considered pretty unhealthy as well, just because of the dressing. Kraft’s Classic Caesar Salad Dressing has soybean oil as well as romano and parmesan cheese. Just 2 tablespoons of the stuff is loaded with 12 grams of fat and 300 milligrams of sodium.

14. Gummy bears

Holding gummy bears
@Clara_Sh / Twenty20

The only protein in these colorful treats come from all that gelatin — gummy bears are primarily made up of sugar.

Haribo’s Goldbears, for example, hold 6.9 grams of protein and 46 grams of sugar for every 100 grams of gummies you consume.

Even the sugar-free variety shouldn’t be eaten too often. Sugar-free gummy bears usually have sugar alcohols added to them instead — they have fewer calories than sugar and won’t affect your blood sugar levels as much — but some can have very unpleasant effects on your bowel movements.

13. Veggie sticks/straws

Veggie sticks
@billyves12 / Twenty20

These light and crispy snacks aren’t as nutritious as you’d suppose — just eat your carrots and cucumbers raw instead.

While some brands get touted for their smaller fat content compared to potato chips, veggie straws still lack protein, fiber and nutrients. They’re also quite salty, and like potato chips, their airy texture and weight can trick you into eating more and more of them.

Veggie snack brand Sensible Portions says its veggie straws have “30% less fat than the leading potato chip” at 7 grams for every 38 straws, but they also have 220 milligrams of sodium.

You’d be better off with tortilla chips — the Tostitos Original chips have only 115 milligrams of sodium and 7 grams of fat in comparison.

12. Granola and cereal bars

Healthy snack of Granola Bars with nuts
@CassMcD / Twenty20

Granola bars might provide you with a nice energy boost on your hikes or at work, but don’t dismiss all those added sugars.

Munching on just two of Nature Valley’s Oats and Honey granola bars ups your fat intake by 7 grams and your sugar intake by 11 grams.

The sugar-free variety that uses sugar alcohols instead can lead to some digestive issues if you consume too much of them.

Beware of the Clif Chocolate Brownie Bar — it’s more dessert than anything else. A single bar is loaded with 5 grams of fat and 21 grams of sugar.

11. Store-bought smoothies

@thayra / Twenty20

You might think a smoothie is the perfect way to get your fruits and veggies down — it’s both delicious and healthy, right?

Well, some health experts disagree.

The New York Times says commercially-prepared smoothies often contain extra sweeteners, like added sugar and honey, protein powder that’s often sweetened, or milk, yogurt or nut butters. These can all add to the calorie count.

Depending on what fruits are included, the natural sugar content can be exceedingly high without added sugars as well.

For example, one bottle of Naked Juice’s Green Machine, a melange of apple, mango, pineapple, banana and kiwi juices, has 53 grams of sugar already.

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 36 grams of sugar per day for men and 25 grams for women.

10. Some trail mix varieties

Mixed gorp with dried mango, raisins and chocolate covered nuts.
Nicola_K / Shutterstock

Trail mix can be a delicious and healthy on-the-go snack, but watch what you’re buying.

Most types feature a medley of nuts, seeds, granola and dried fruit. Other versions may also include candy, popcorn and chocolate chips or added spices.

You can easily increase your calorie, salt and sugar intake by munching on one of these not-so-healthy varieties.

Take Emerald’s Breakfast on the Go! This snack pack includes yogurt-covered raisins, granola clusters, honey-roasted peanuts, dried cranberries, glazed walnuts and dried apple chips. One serving is loaded with 19 grams of sugar.

9. Gatorade

Gatorade on shelves
@galvman2 / Twenty20

Sure, this sports drink was developed for athletes to replenish their electrolytes and fluids during strenuous exercise.

But, if you’re not an athlete and don’t exercise a lot, you should probably just stick to good old water.

Healthline advises that people who don’t exercise for at least one hour, five days a week should drink water instead and obtain their electrolytes from natural sources.

A single 12-ounce bottle of the Cool Blue Thirst Quencher has 160 milligrams of sodium and 21 grams of sugar in it already — making up a massive chunk of your recommended daily sugar intake. It also contains Blue 1, an artificial coloring agent.

8. Agave nectar

Agave nectar running off a metal spoon.
Christopher Kimball Photo / Shutterstock

This plant-derived sweetener/syrup won’t impact your blood sugar levels like sugar will — which is why it’s often marketed as “healthy” or “diabetes-friendly” — but it does pose other harmful effects to the body.

Agave nectar is low in glucose, but very high in fructose. Consuming too much fructose can contribute to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, according to Healthline.

Your liver will start converting all that excess fructose into fat and this can potentially increase your “bad” cholesterol levels, your risk of fatty liver disease and belly fat accumulation.

7. Dried fruit

Dried grapes, raisins on a grey concrete background
almaje / Shutterstock

Raisins, dates, prunes and dried apricots — exactly how unhealthy are they for you, compared to regular fruits?

Experts say dried fruit can actually contain more fiber, vitamins and minerals than fresh fruit, but they also tend to be high in sugar. For example, one box of Sun-Maid California Sun-Dried raisins has 18 grams of sugar.

Avoid “candied fruit” or dried fruit with added sugars at all costs and read the fine print. The ingredients list on the back will usually tell you if they include extra sugar.

Ocean Spray’s Craisins, which are dusted in cane sugar, have 29 grams of sugar in total for every quarter-cup serving.

6. Some fruit cup snacks

Close-up fruit jelly
sevenke / Shutterstock

There’s at least one kid in your class who brings a plastic fruit cup in for snack time. You know the kind — tiny fruit slices suspended in a thick, sweet jelly.

The Del Monte and Dole brands promise that some of their cups use real fruit juice only, but a few varieties include added sugars as well, so check the label first.

For example, one cup of the Dole peaches in 100% fruit juice has 18 grams of sugar. The peaches in a strawberry-flavored gel, however, include both natural and artificial flavors and packs 22 grams of sugar per cup.

Better yet, just stick to the real thing. One medium-sized peach has about 13 grams of sugar.

5. Diet soda

Diet Coke
Mike Mozart / Flickr

You’re likely already aware that downing a can of Coke or Pepsi each day isn’t very good for you. But, the diet versions of these sugary drinks are pretty bad as well.

Diet Coke, for example, has 0 grams of sugar and 0 calories. Crazy, right? That’s because it has aspartame, an artificial sweetener, instead of sugar.

Medical News Today says some studies have found correlations between drinking too much diet soda and increasing your risk for high blood pressure, fatty liver, diabetes and obesity. And some research suggests drinking diet soda regularly could make you crave sweet foods and drinks more often.

4. Meatless burger

Beyond Burger
@wanaktek / Twenty20

The Beyond Meat and Impossible burger brands were heartily embraced by vegetarians and vegans when they became mainstream in grocery stores and restaurants.

Just keep in mind that while they’re a delicious meat-free option to a regular beef patty, that doesn’t make them healthy for you. One Beyond Meat burger patty is loaded with 260 calories, 18 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat and 350 milligrams of sodium.

In comparison, you can get a 93% lean ground beef patty with just 160 calories, 8 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat and 85 milligrams of sodium at Walmart instead.

3. Quaker rice crisps

Quaker rice snacks
Evan-Amos / Wikimedia Commons

Puffed rice snacks are light and airy and typically low in calories — but high in carbs and low in fiber, so they don’t provide much nutritional value.

The Quaker rice crisps, which come in various flavors, are made with corn and whole grain brown rice and are gluten-free. But make sure to read the nutritional information on the back of the bag before you toss it into your grocery cart.

The caramel flavored crisps have 240 milligrams of sodium and 10 grams of sugar for every 13 pieces. The buttermilk ranch variety racks up the salt content even further with 330 milligrams of sodium for every 17 crisps.

2. Spinach wraps and pasta

Woman puts fried vegetables and meat on spinach tortillas.
@tastyfood / Twenty20

Not everything green is good — spinach wraps and pasta actually contain very little spinach, says health experts.

The Mission garden spinach herb wraps, for example, are loaded with 220 calories and 540 milligrams of sodium, with just 3 grams of fiber. The soft taco flour version has just 140 calories and 410 milligrams of sodium for comparison (although it also has only 1 gram of fiber).

Just add fresh spinach to your wrap or pasta dish instead. If you’re picking out tortillas, choose the 100% whole grain variety.

1. Canned baked beans

Bush's original baked beans
J Wynia / Flickr

Baked beans aren’t necessarily unhealthy — in fact, they’re usually high in protein and fiber — but the canned variety typically adds in sugar, salt and other additives.

Just look at Bush’s Original Baked Beans, seasoned with bacon and brown sugar. One serving, or half a cup of beans, has 7 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber, but also 570 milligrams of sodium and 11 grams of sugar.

Healthline also mentions that many bean cans contain the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in their interior lining, which can potentially leach into your food. Some research suggests BPA can elevate your obesity risk and even reduce fertility.

Don't forget there are ways to reward yourself when you go out for groceries. You can use an app called Fetch to earn points on every grocery run just by snapping a quick photo of your receipt with your phone. toward things like gift cards just by snapping a photo of your receipt.

About the Author

Serah Louis

Serah Louis

Staff Writer

Serah Louis is a staff writer with MoneyWise.com. She has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto, where she double majored in Biology and Professional Writing and Communications.

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