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Unhealthy Grocery Items Dietitians Say You Should Stop Buying Right Now

You might never guess what lies under the surface of these popular foods.

When you start focusing on a healthy eating plan, a trip to the grocery store can feel incredibly intimidating. A once-pleasant shopping experience has the potential to turn into a stress-filled chore if you're not sure what to grab. Knowing the ins and outs of the shelves can feel like a complete maze.

With the help of some top dietitians and weight loss experts, you can get your shopping list on track and cut out any less-than-wholesome foods that discretely have the potential to ruin any eating plan. We consulted the experts and assembled the master list of unhealthy grocery items you need to pass up next time you're at the store.

After making sure none of these offending items make it onto your next grocery list, check out The 100 Unhealthiest Grocery Foods in America to keep refining your shopping game.

1

Beef

ground beef
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You have heard about how you should opt for white meat over red if you want a healthier protein option, and the experts continue to agree.

"Red meat contains saturated fat and cholesterol," says Dr. Jinan Banna, RD. "If these are consumed in excess, the risk of cardiovascular disease increases. If someone is consuming a diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol, consuming red meat every day may not be the best choice. Of course, beef does contain nutrients that benefit the body, such as iron, and can be part of a healthy diet if consumed moderately."

2

Soda

soda
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"Drinks such as soda are very high in sugar," says Dr. Banna. "Diets high in sugar have been shown to have the potential to decrease the microbial diversity in the gut after just one week's time. Loss of microbial diversity in the gut microbiota has been shown to be associated with most of the human diseases affecting westernized countries."

All sodas come packed with a ton of sugar, but some take sweetness to whole new levels. If you love an occasional soda, make sure to stay away from the 30 Worst Sodas That Are Never Worth Drinking.

3

White Bread

white bread
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"White bread has had some of the beneficial parts of the grain stripped, so it does not contain as much of that helpful fiber and other nutrients found in whole-grain bread," says Dr. Banna. "It is digested quickly and will leave you feeling hungry soon after eating."

When you want to grab the best bread on your grocery run, take the guesswork out of finding the best bread and make sure to consult The Best & Worst Bread in America in 2021—Ranked!

4

Frozen Vegan Meals

microwave meal
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Vegan meals sound immediately healthy, but many of these products hide some not-so-wholesome add-ins.

"The sodium, fat, and calorie content in most of these meals make them among the worst vegan foods to purchase," says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD at Balance One Supplements. "They offer little in the way of essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals and are significantly dense in calories and fat."

"You may be better off to prepare your own with plant-based pasta or whole-grain wraps, and lots of veggies to be frozen and easily accessed rather than relying on these that are dangerously high in sodium and will leave you feeling hungry shortly after due to their refined carbohydrate content," says Best.

4

Packaged Baked Goods

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Pre-packaged cupcakes, donuts, and much more taste great and conveniently throw something sweet your way, but don't get lured in by these products. A world of poor nutrition lurks under the surface of these tempting confections.

"These are some of the worst groceries to buy because they are high in processed oils and added sugars," says Holly Klamer, MS, RDN. "Because of this, packaged baked goods are usually higher in calories compared to homemade baked goods."

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Erich Barganier
Erich Barganier is a health and food writer. Read more