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12 Surprising Foods That Make Us Fat

12 Surprising Foods That Make Us Fat
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They sound natural, nutritious and good for you but can be surprisingly high in calories and other not so good stuff.

These days, it’s hard to keep track of what’s good for us.  It seems like opinions about food and diet shift with the winds.  One year chocolate is bad for you and the next it’s identified as a heart-healthy choice.  By the way, those studies done on chocolate were performed with very dark chocolates.

The challenge for all of us over 50 is that we have people telling us there’s more we shouldn’t eat than we’d like.  As a result, when we encounter a food that we perceive as healthy we sometimes indulge if not binge simply because we think it’s okay.

Unfortunately, even some of those “good” foods have a hidden secret if not hidden calories.  It can get frustrating.  Sometimes we just want to throw our hands in the air and give up trying.  Don’t do that, but do take a minute to understand how some healthy choices can be not as healthy as we assume.


This is surprising.  Avocados often show up on those “super food” lists.  But the fact of the matter is that avocados are high in calories due to the oils in the avocado.  An average size avocado has 240 calories and 184 calories from fat with saturated fat at 3 grams or 16% of the recommended daily intake. If you polish off a bowl of guacamole with some of the other things you might add you’ve put down some serious calories for the serving size.  It’s true that avocados are a healthy food source, but when you consider the fat calories and the chips you might use to dip it can get ahead of you.  Speaking of chips….

Carrot, sweet potato, whole grain and other “natural” chips

Potatoes are not the villains when it comes to snack chips.  A medium, baked potato is an excellent food source, and is both healthy and nutritious.  It’s what we do to those potatoes that make things difficult. A  large baked potato has 270 calories with only 3 calories from fat an 1 % saturated fat.  But the minute we top that potato with butter, sour cream, grated cheese and bacon bits the calories and calories from fat go through the roof.

The same is true for potato chips.  What makes a potato chip “bad” is that it’s deep-fried in oil and topped with salt.  But guess what.  Those carrot chips, sweet potato chips, quinoa chips and other healthy “stuff” chips go through the same process and have the same result:  high calories, high calories from fat and the ever-present salt.


Sushi has a hidden secret when it comes to weight gain and diet.  But first, let’s distinguish two things.  There is sushi and then there is sashimi.

Sashimi is raw strips of fish and shellfish.  Assuming they are safe to eat and “sushi” grade fish, they are an excellent food choice simply because they are low in bad fats, high in good fats like omega-3 and omit a couple of ingredients that reveals sushi’s hidden secret:  white rice.

White rice is high in simple carbohydrates which raises blood sugar and adds a carbohydrate component to the pure protein of fish.  What defines sushi is a strip of fish or shellfish laid over a “finger” of white rice that is often dipped into soy sauce which is typically high in salt.  Much like a baked potato, a perfectly healthy piece of sushi grade, raw fish is compromised by the addition of ingredients like rice and soy sauce.

Too make matters worse, there are sushi rolls.  These are traditionally referred to as “maki” rolls and usually roll up some fish, other ingredients like avocado around a layer of white rice and then are often topped with sauces, crispy toppings and dipped in soy sauce.

Once again, we’ve taken a healthy food foundation and surrounded it with things that raise blood sugar, sodium intake and other ingredients -but we think it’s good  for us so we eat it with abandon.  My advice:  stick with the sashimi and if you must, dip it into a low-sodium soy.


Commercially produced and sold yogurts are loaded with sugar.  Many small containers contain as much sugar as 6 ounces of any soft drink.  This can apply to the more expensive “Greek” yogurts as well.

They also make great claims for probiotic benefits to help healthy bacteria in our intestinal tract.  A glass of whole milk will do the same without the added sugar and in fact has less fat.  Read the label if you’re in doubt.  If you can find a truly natural yogurt you’ll see the difference.  But nobody buys that because it doesn’t taste good without all of that added sugar.


Smoothies can be very good for you if you use fresh fruits, ice and…nothing else.  And that’s where smoothies get complicated.  Many recipes call for the addition of milk, cream, ice cream, cookie pieces, yogurt and on and on.  Any smoothie made with fruit and/or vegetables and some fruit or vegetable juice is a good choice.  When you start adding the ice cream, cookies and other stuff you might as well get a milk shake.


How did this get on our list?  Well it’s good news and bad news. The good news is that fruit is genuinely good food.  The hidden problem is the level of natural sugars known as fructose in some fruits.  They’re good sugars, but if you have a problem with hypoglycemia or any diabetic condition, sugar in any form is an issue.

Fruits with the highest amounts of sugar include mangoes, bananas, sweet cherries, figs and grapes.  If you don’t have an issue with hypoglycemia you can probably enjoy without limits.  Just remember that 8 million Americans have prediabetes and don’t know it, and any regular spike in sugar intake can lead to diabetes Type 2.  If in doubt about this, ask anyone you know who’s diabetic.


It starts to get laughable when salad hits a list like this, but it’s the “baked potato conundrum.”  Any salad of fresh, chopped vegetables is a brilliant diet choice.  And then we top it with a half cup of some store-bought cream dressing like Ranch, top it with some grated cheese, croutons and oh yeah… where are those bacon bits?

Salad will always be good for you.  Eat it everyday but consider simple vinegar and oil dressings made with some extra virgin olive oil and as much apple cider, balsamic , red wine or other vinegar that you like

Wheat bread

A genuine, whole wheat bread is a very good bread.  Good luck finding one.  Grocery stores tout “wheat bread” everywhere and they’re no different than white bread.  A true whole wheat bread is made from whole grains that have been pulverized to a powder without bleaching or extensive processing.  They often are a blend of multi-grains and are a bit rustic and coarse.

The grocery store wheat is almost identical to the grocery store white.  Compare the label and either buy a bread machine or find a loaf that has a better nutrition score based on the nutrition facts on ever store-bought loaf.

Fruit juice

Let’s get straight to the point:  It’s hard to find a true fruit juice.  Most are made from concentrates and even those that are “not from concentrate” will have added ingredients.  To make matters worse, some of the “pure” juices have made health claims that are not credible and a couple are getting sued for outrageous claims.  If you can’t juice your own (and how many of us can?)  Keep reading the labels until you find a juice that aligns with your current health conditions.  And while you’re at it, keep an eye on sodium counts with any vegetable juice.


Here’s a spot quiz:  what is granola…?  Most people don’t know but for the record it is largely made on a foundation of rolled oats (oatmeal), ground nuts and some chopped, dried fruit. It sound good and on a fundamental level it is, especially the rolled oats.  Where granola starts to fail is when other things get added like sugars, chocolate and other flavor enhancements.

Granola is easy to make at home and that would let you manage the ingredients.  When you buy it in the store you’re rolling the dice and calories that hide behind the added ingredients can make this a poor, healthy choice.

Sports Drinks

After a hard workout, or not, we sometimes want the reward of a sports drink that will renew electrolytes and refresh us for our well earned cool-down.  But how hard are we really working out?  Sports drinks provide many benefits mostly defined by salts, sugars and water.  Unless you are aggressively exercising these sports drinks will over-deliver on salts and sugars.  Water still remains the best solution for thirst and if you really need the electrolytes -mix the sport drink with water.

Organic Anything

The FDA standards allowing the use of the word “organic” on food does not exist.  The result is that everyone is using the word “organic.”  The unfortunate fact is that it’s meaningless.  Yet how often do we assume our own definitions when we see the word.

  • They probably don’t use chemical fertilizers.  (Not true)
  • They don’t use insecticides.  (Not true)
  • There are no artificial colors or preservatives (Not true)
  • It’s made from all natural ingredients (Not true)
  • It’s an heirloom fruit or vegetable rather than genetically modified -GMO (Not true)
  • They use natural, organic sweeteners rather than high fructose corn syrup (Not true)
  • It’s good for me (Not true)

Check out the link for yourself.  Anyone can call anything organic because there are no FDA guidelines, rules, regulations or measures to   qualify and quantify “organic.” And that may be the biggest surprise.  We    all want to think we know what we’re doing when it comes to eating right. It’s a little hard to judge when no one else including the federal government seems to know.







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