30: Not only is it the number of days in September, April, June, and November, it's also the percentage of American adults who are obese, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey of over 100,000 respondents. And while health professionals stand in one corner of the room trying to figure out what to do about it, food manufacturers gather in the other, patting themselves on the back. It's their sugary, fatty, and overly-caloric products that are largely to blame for getting us to this point, after all.
Packaged junk food is our nation's drug of choice, and despite the repercussions on our collective health, the food industry keeps making new products designed to get you hooked, even if they make you rounder. Your best defense? Eat a diet comprised mostly of plants, whole grains, fresh meat, and healthy fats—and proceed down the packed food aisle with caution. While you may already know to avoid these 35 Worst Healthy Snacks on the Planet, there are likely some new landmines popping up on supermarket shelves you may not be familiar with. Before you add anything new to your shopping cart, see if they made this list of the worst new foods of the year.
PowerBar Protein Shakes
PowerBar's edibles read like a science lab inventory list, so it should be no surprise that their protein shakes also have a long list of ingredients. The two that made us raise an eyebrow? Acesulfame potassium and carrageenan. The first is an artificial sweetener that's suspected of causing benign thyroid tumors. In rats, the development of such tumors took only 3 months. The second is carrageenan, a seaweed derivative can cause stomach discomfort and bloat in those with sensitive bellies. If it's a shake you crave, make your own at home with the help of our guide, The Best and Worst Protein Powders!
Ben & Jerry's Non-Dairy Pints
You know that Khloe Kardashian lost 11 pounds when she gave up dairy, but that doesn't mean eating non-dairy options of your favorite indulgent treats will have the same effect. Ben & Jerry's new line of vegan almond milk ice cream, for example, packs up to 290 calories and 40 percent of the day's saturated fat intake into a ½ cup serving. While that's not really any worse than the company's other pints, we felt these moo-free versions deserved a place on our list since they carry a health halo. If you want to indulge in some ice cream, go for it. Just don't assume it "doesn't count" when you opt for dairy-free. At the end of the day, it's all junk food and should be eaten in moderation.
Hungry Man Selects Golden Battered Chicken with Cheese Fries
Many people assume frozen meals are better than fast food, but that's hardly ever the case. In fact, this new meal by Hungry Man packs more calories than an order of nuggets and fries from the McDonald's Menu. Pair that with more than half a day's worth of salt and no usable nutrients, and you've got yourself the makings for one of the very worst new supermarket foods of the year.
Quaker Breakfast Flats
They may be "flat" but they're far from skinny—though at first glance, that may not be obvious. Coming in at 180 calories, it's not that this breakfast bite is super bad for you, but considering it's being marketed as healthy, it's not so cool that it contains four different sources of sugar. In fact, brown sugar is the third most used ingredient in the bar. There are far better packaged breakfast options on the market, and we suggest picking up one of those instead. Or, better yet, give some of these healthy breakfast ideas a try!
Kellogg's Jif PB & J Strawberry Cereal
The front of this box clearly advertises that the product is made with Jif Peanut Butter, the best-selling—but one of the least nutritious—peanut butters in America. Not only does this innocent looking cereal contain heart-harming hydrogenated oil, it's also riddled with Red 40 (a dye that can cause hives and other allergic reactions). Plus, 40 percent of its calories come from sugar—a obesogenic nutrient that's been linked with weight gain and various health issues ranging from diabetes to high blood pressure. If you're looking for something tasty to nosh on, skip this junky cereal and pick up one of these 15 Best Low-Sugar Snacks for Weight Loss.
A&W Root Beer and Crush Orange Pop-Tarts
Anytime two bad for you foods are mixed you can guarantee it's going to yield a snack that's exponentially worse than either of the items could ever be on their own. And these soda-inspired Pop-Tarts are no exception. No matter how delicious they may sound, remember this: There's never a good reason to eat a pastry or down a soda for breakfast. The surge of sugar and lack of fiber will send you running for a snack just an hour after you polish off your morning meal.
White Chocolate & Chocolate Travel Edition Oreos
Just two measly Oreos pack 160 calories and more than half the day's recommended sugar intake. So it' safe to assume that these white and milk chocolate covered "Travel Edition" (they're only sold in airports) Oreos are far worse for your gut than their traditional counterparts. If you're jetting off to somewhere where a bathing suit is required, resist the urge to pick up a box of these fattening cookies. Splitting them with a travel companion over the course of your trip will cost you over 1,000 calories—and that's in addition to all the other junk you're probably indulging in during your vacation.
Fage's new line dubbed Crossovers, pairs their creamy Greek yogurt with a variety of crunchy toppings in one convenient container. Though their savory offerings aren't that awful, the sweet ones are a different story, packing up to 220 calories and 23 grams of sugar (about half of which is the added variety) in each container. You'd be better off picking up a plain yogurt from our list of the 25 Best Yogurts for Weight Loss, and topping it with fresh spices and fruit from your own kitchen. The extra two minutes of effort is totally worth it.
Raisin Bran Granola
Despite its healthful reputation, regular Raisin Bran (which made our list of the 28 Worst Breakfast Cereals) contains more than 70 percent of the day's sugar and 190 calories per one cup serving. That said, it doesn't come as a surprise that their granola is equally as stomach-churning. Both the "Raisin & Honey Granola" and "Cranberry Almond Granola" varieties have about 300 calories and 23 grams of the sweet stuff (that's more than you'd find in a Kit Kat bar!) in a mere 1 cup serving. While it's not quite as bad some other granolas on the market, it's still a sugary product our country would surely be better off without.
More Little Debbie Zebra Snacks
She may look sweet and innocent in her plaid top and cowgirl hat, but Little Debbie doesn't have your best interests in mind. Year after year she rolls out new, rich snacks that your gut would be better off without. In honor of the new year, the brand decided to expand its iconic Zebra Cake line to include Cake Rolls (yellow cake, vanilla crème, white icing, and fudge), Zebra Brownies (brownie, white icing, and fudge) and Zebra Plus Nutty Bars (peanut butter crispy wafer, vanilla icing, and fudge), which are all primarily made up of sugar and fat. The icing on the (snack) cake? They also use TBHQ in their recipes, which is a form of butane (i.e. lighter fluid). Yum! To learn more about other scary foods that use artificial dyes and chemicals check out our report, 17 Surprising Foods That Contain Chemicals & Food Dyes.
Sambazon Acai Chocolate & Chocolate Chip Creamy Sorbet
Known as a powerful anti-inflammatory and source of protective antioxidants and heart-healthy omega-3s, the acai berry certainly carries a health halo. However, most Americans aren't just popping the raw fruit into their mouths.They're consuming it in juice, powder, and snack food form, which almost always means they're also getting a dose of other ingredients their body doesn't need. This acai sorbet is no exception. It contains four types of sugar and carries more calories in a half-cup serving than an equal serving of Bryer's Black Raspberry Chocolate—and double the amount of the sweet stuff. Don't let the word "acai" fool you, this isn't a good-for-you pick.
Warm Drinks from PepsiCo.
Get this: Earlier this month, PepsiCo completed a test of warmed soft drinks and Sobe teas at a dozen CVS locations throughout Boston. They were displayed in a warming cabinet heated to 122° F! Yes, you read that right, hot soda and bottled teas are now a thing. (In fact, they've been a thing through Japan for a while now!) With more and more consumers shying away from sugary beverages, the drink industry is doing whatever they can to remain hip and innovative. But no matter how you slice it, soda doesn't take good warm and even if you can bring yourself to sip the stuff, it doesn't change the fact that it's filled with chemicals and sugar your body doesn't need. If you're interested in sipping your way slim with a tea, however, ditch the bottled stuff and pick up a copy of the The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse! Test panelists lost up to 4 inches from their waist!
Brookside Fruit and Nut Yogurt Flavored Bars
Another year, another gaggle of granola bars making their debut on supermarket shelves. While many of them are taking note of consumer's desire to kick chemicals and artificial ingredients to the curb, other brands are lagging behind—and one of them is Brookside. Their new line of yogurt flavored snack bars contains no actual yogurt. Instead, they blend, sugar, palm kernel oil, milk, lactic acid, and "natural flavor" to give their treats a creamy Greek yogurt taste. And with 11 to 13 grams of sugar and just 4 grams of protein a pop, there are far better snack bars you can spend your money on.
Organic Gemini Tiger Nut Raw Granola
In case you're not already familiar, a tiger nut is a small root vegetable filled with prebiotic fiber and resistant starch, a starch that does exactly what the name implies—resists digestion and aids weight loss. While an ounce of plain ol' tiger nuts carries 150 calories and 6 grams of naturally-occurring sugar, making it a sensible snack, we can't say the same about this raw granola. Thanks for the addition of maple syrup (it's the third ingredient on the nutrition panel), banana, seeds, cacao nibs, and dates, this granola packs up to 330 calories and 37 grams of sugar in a standard serving size (which they consider to be 2 ounces; that's super small). For some healthier ways to use the root veggie, check out these Surprising Uses for Tiger Nuts.
Jell-O Creations Dessert Kits
Jell-O is basically just an edible chemical concoction, so when it's mixed with artificial candy, puffed marshmallow bits, and other toppings, it transforms from bad to worse. We'd list all of the ingredients on the label here to give you the full idea, but you'd probably glass over—yes, it's that long. Just take our word and skip these. They may be cute, but they're nothing sort of evil.
Freschetta Artisan Crust Pizzas
When something is dubbed "artisan," images of cooks carefully crafting our food tends to come to mind. And not to mention, many people assume these products are more wholesome than their less fancy counterparts but don't fall for the marketing ploy. Sure, this frozen pie preservative free, which is a win, but their Margherita variety—which is one of the healthier types of pizza out there—has 310 calories, 11 grams of fat, and nearly 30 percent of the day's salt in just one tiny slice. If you were to down the entire pie, you'd take in a whopping 1,550 calories, which is more than what you'd find in an entire medium thin crust cheese pie from Dominos.