From veggie chips to granola, not all that looks natural is actually so. When pinned up against more conventional grocers like Stop & Shop or Gristedes, Whole Foods gets graced with a kind of health halo. But at the end of the day, certain foods can’t escape junk food status no matter where they’re sold.
Organic, Non-GMO, Gluten-Free…don’t let the labels fool you. Stick to your guns when it comes to mindfully choosing healthy foods and you’re healthy haul will stay as such. We’re calling out the products that will bully your body; next time you’re cruising the aisles of Whole Foods, steer clear of these not-so-healthy picks. And then keep the smart choices going with these 20 Healthy Foods You Better Eat in Moderation!
365 Apple Cereal Bars
1 apple-flavored bar: 140 calories, 2.5 g fat, 0 g sat fat, 90 mg sodium, 28 g carbs, < 1 g fiber, 17 g sugar, 2g protein
Bars are a tricky territory to navigate, as many are loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients. This one, in particular, offers up 17 grams of sugar with almost no fiber and barely any protein—so you’re going to be very hungry shortly after eating. “Even though it’s [claiming to be a health food bar], it may just be a glorified candy bar,” says Jessica Crandall, a Denver-based RD, Certified Diabetes Educator, and National Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Also, sometimes there are two servings bars like this—so be mindful of that.” If you love noshing on bars, then find a better choice from our list of The 16 Best Best Nutrition Bars for Every Goal!
Whole Foods Two-Bite Cinnamon Rolls
2 rolls: 220 calories, 9 g fat, 6 g sat fat, 160 mg sodium, 32 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 17 g sugar, 2 g protein
It may smell amazing and look incredibly fresh, but beware of the bakery. If you look hard enough, you’ll find that the cinnamon buns and croissants that fill the cases are no healthier than the packaged stuff on the shelves.
Nature’s Path Mmmaple Brown Sugar Toaster Pastries
1 pastry: 210 calories, 4.5 g fat, 3 g sat fat, 125 mg sodium, 39 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 20 g sugar, 3 g protein
They look healthier and more natural than the blue box Pop-Tarts you grew up with as a kid, but they’re still not exactly good for you. With 20 grams of sugar per pastry, you’ll start your morning off on a cheap high and will crash and burn in no time.
365 Veggie Straws
1 oz: 130 calories, 7 g fat, .5 g sat fat, 280 mg sodium, 16 g carbs, 0 g fiber, < 1 g sugar, 1 g protein
Like the items on our list of 20 Foods You Can’t Trust, these “veggie” straws are out to fool you. They’re basically chips and definitely don’t count toward your daily servings of vegetables. “Chips are chips and should only be eaten on occasion,” says Crandall. “Veggie chips are not super healthy. They’re not high in fiber and they don’t have that much of a vegetable property to them. Sometimes they can be fried and that contains a lot more fat, oils, and salt than we actually need.”
OrganicVille Original Organic BBQ Sauce
2 tbsp: 50 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g sat fat, 200 mg sodium, 13 g carbs, < 1 g fiber, 11 g sugar, 0 g protein
With two forms of sugar showing up in the first three ingredients (agave nectar and molasses), it doesn’t really matter that much that it’s organic. Sauces are common places for sugar to hide, so be picky when choosing one for your next BBQ.
365 Organic Ranch Dressing
2 tbsp: 120 calories, 13 g fat, 2 g sat fat, 330 mg sodium, 2 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 0 g protein
Again, just because it’s organic, doesn’t mean it’s free of fat and excess calories. “Read food labels and use your judgment to assess the items, especially if you’re eating one particular brand a lot. It’s important to know what you’re consuming on a regular basis! Variety is important, but we are creatures of habit and tend to gravitate toward the same thing,” says Crandall. If ranch is your go-to dressing, it might be time to explore different options.
Newman’s Own Creamy Caesar Dressing
2 tbsp: 150 calories, 16 g fat, 2.5 g sat fat, 340 mg sodium, 1 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 1 g protein
Creamy dressings are usually a no-go in any healthy diet. Vegetable oil and cheese make up the bulk of this salad classic. It may not have artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, but it’s still calorie dense and full of fat. Avoid these 16 Salad Dressings Worse Than Chocolate Syrup so that you don’t keep ruining your salads.
Cucina Antica Tuscany Pumpkin Sauce
½ cup: 100 calories, 8 g fat, 4 g sat fat, 350 mg sodium, 6 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 2 g protein
Though this sauce is bursting with vitamin A (thanks to the pumpkin), it’s also filled with saturated fat and excess calories because of the heavy cream and butter. To keep calories at bay and your waistline happy, stick to lighter, tomato-based options.
Naked Blue Machine Smoothie
1 15.2 oz bottle: 320 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g sat fat, 20 mg sodium, 76 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 55 g sugar, 2 g protein
The bottle says “no added sugar,” but it still boasts an outrageous 55 grams on its own. “I would be cautious of pre-packaged smoothies; I call them ‘pie in a cup.’ They can have a lot of extra calories, a lot of extra sugar and excessive amounts of fruit in them. They’re not necessarily helpful for you in getting the nutrition that you need,” says Crandall. Our recommendation at Eat This, Not That! is to make your smoothies at home. You’ll find more than 100 delicious recipes in our founder’s book, Zero Belly Smoothies!
Annie’s Canned Organic Cheesy Ravioli
1 cup: 180 calories, 2 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 700 mg sodium, 36 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 5 g protein
Whether your name is Annie or Chef Boyardee, canned ravioli isn’t a healthy choice—period. With two servings per container, this small can packs in a steep 1,400 mg of sodium. That’s double the recommended amount per meal! The 20 grams of sugar doesn’t help, either.
365 Organic Deluxe Elbows & Creamy Cheddar Sauce
½ cup pasta and ¼ cup cheese sauce: 320 calories, 10 g fat, 6 g sat fat, 720 mg sodium, 46 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 12 g protein
Yes, it’s better than Velveeta and boasts real organic cheddar cheese as its star ingredient. But unless you plan to split the dinner with four people, be very mindful of portion sizes. With 4 servings per box, it’s easy to overdo it. And with 320 calories and 10 grams of fat per serving, already you want to avoid going any higher for a food that’s void of vegetables.
Australian Crystallized Ginger Chunks
5 pieces: 90 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g sat fat, 0 mg sodium, 21 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 20 g sugar, 0 g protein
This snack contains two ingredients only: ginger and sugar. If half of any snack is pure sugar, I would be very hesitant to pick it up. Are you really going to stop at five pieces, too? Unless you’re treating yourself, avoid this sugar bomb and grab a whole root of ginger if you’re looking for the tummy-settling benefits.
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16 pieces: 180 calories, 8 g fat, 7 g sat fat, 15 mg sodium, 28 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 25 g sugar, 1 g protein
Fruit covered in yogurt—what’s unhealthy about that? Well, the sugar count, for starters. At 25 grams per serving, this snack should be looked at as candy. It’s easy to be drawn to the trail mixes and snacks hovering around the bulk section, but most of the dried fruit options are full of sugar and should either be eaten in moderation or avoided.
365 Organic Concord Grape Jelly
1 tbsp: 50 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g sat fat, 0 mg sodium, 13 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 13 g sugar, 0 g protein
This organic jar can make you forget the nostalgia that a classic jar of Welch’s brings, but it’s still a sugary spread. Regardless of the natural labeling, grape jelly is spreadable sugar and should be eaten in strict moderation. Measure out the single tablespoon and stick to it!
365 Traditional Tortillas
1 tortilla: 130 calories, 3 g fat, 1.5 g sat fat, 130 mg sodium, 22 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 3 g protein
These tortillas are missing fiber and whole grains—which means they’ll digest fast and you’ll be hungry again, almost just as fast! If you’ve got a thing for wraps, skip the white options and go for 100% whole grain.
Annie’s Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks, Berry Patch
1 pouch: 70 calories, 0 g fat, 45 mg sodium, 18 g carbs, 10 g sugar, 0 g protein
Fruit snacks and real fruit are two completely different things. These packs are full of sugar, with tapioca syrup, cane sugar, and tapioca syrup solids as the first three ingredients (meaning there’s more sugar than any other item on the list). Avoid the candy-like snacks and grab the real, fiber-full thing if you’ve got a fruity craving. (Psst! These are the 15 Most Antioxidant-Packed Fruits & Veggies—Ranked!)
365 Chocolate Sandwich Cremes
2 cookies: 130 calories, 5 g fat, 0 g sat fat, 90 mg sodium, 19 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 11 g sugar, 1 g protein
Are you really fooled? This treat is made up of two chocolate cookies smashing together a creamy, frosting middle—and Whole Foods’ take on the Oreo is really no healthier. The cookies are still processed and lacking in nutrition, so just reach for a square of 70% dark chocolate to cure your craving the healthier way.
Glutino Milk Chocolate Coated Wafers
4 wafers: 160 calories, 9 g fat, 4.5 g sat fat, 40 mg sodium, 20 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 11 g sugar, 1 g protein
Free of gluten—and also substance—these wafers are mostly just sugar. “Just because it says organic, non-GMO, or gluten-free, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Gluten-free cake is still cake,” says Crandall. Put these back on the shelf and keep cruising for a more filling, nutrient-dense option.
Fat-Free Fig Newmans
2 cookies: 100 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g sat fat, 150 mg sodium, 24 g carbs, < 1 g fiber, 13 g sugar, 2 g protein
You need to wade through flour, sugar, and corn syrup before you get to the organic figs on this list. (Ironically, figs are also ranked #1 on our list of fruits with the most sugar!) While naturally-occurring sugar isn’t as harmful and it’s good the figs are organic, the fact is that they’re still cookies and should be treated as such.
Surf Sweets Sour Worms
8 pieces: 130 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g sat fat, 120 mg sodium, 32 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 23 g sugar, 0 g protein
While these worms are naturally flavored and made without corn syrup, each worm has nearly 3 grams of sugar, which adds up fast. If you’re not one to eat sour gummy worms, don’t start just because you found them at the “healthy” grocery store.
Torie & Howard Chewie Fruities Organic Candy Chews, Assorted Flavors
7 pieces: 160 calories, 2.5 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 0 mg sodium, 35 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 23 g sugar, 0 g protein
Organic brown rice syrup, organic dried cane syrup—the sugar-filled list goes on. This package talks a lot about what it doesn’t include—dairy, wheat, casein, soy, GMOs, corn syrup—but these Starburst copycats are almost as bad as the real thing.
Australia’s Darrell Lea Soft Eating Liquorice, Strawberry Flavor
3 pieces: 130 calories, 1 g fat, 0.f g sat fat, 15 mg sodium, 28 g carbs, 16 g sugar, 1 g protein
Sugar is front and center on the nutrition label, followed by wheat glucose syrup (whatever that is—no thanks)! Also, with a measly three pieces as the serving size, it’s nearly impossible to keep portions in check when you have an entire bag on hand. “You might see lollipops labeled as organic, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t unhealthy for you,” says Crandall. On the flip side, you really have no excuse not to scoop up these 17 Cheap Organic Foods You Should Be Buying!
Cherrybrook Kitchen Buster Fudge Brownie Mix
1 brownie: 150 calories, 3 g fat, 1.5 g sat fat, 150 mg sodium, 29 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 17 g sugar, 3 g protein
The mix may be full of more natural ingredients than Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker, but the sugar count is too high. Save this box for a special treat on a rainy day if you’ve really got a hankering, but remember that all brownies—natural or not—should be eaten in strict moderation.
Cherrybrook Kitchen All Natural Vanilla Frosting
2 tbsp: 120 calories, 5 g fat, 2.5 g sat fat, 60 mg sodium, 19 g carbs, < 1 g fiber, 18 g sugar, 0 g protein
If the main ingredient in anything is confectioner’s sugar, then it’s best to steer clear. Frosting is despised by dietitians across the board because it has absolutely no nutritional value and is essentially a dense tub of sugar that’s full of excessive, unnecessary calories.
Dandies All Natural Vanilla Marshmallows
*2 pieces: 90 calories, 0 g fat, 0 mg sodium, 22 g carbs, 20 g sugar, 0 g protein
Marshmallows by any brand are just plush candy-cushions made of pure sugar. Just because the packaging announces that these mallows are vegan does not suddenly mean the campfire treat is healthy. Take one, craft your perfect s’more, and move on.
Wholesome Organic Pancake Syrup
¼ cup: 260 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g sat fat, 5 mg sodium, 66 g carbs, 63 g sugar, 0 g protein
Read your labels carefully because this pancake syrup is nothing like its pure maple counterparts. Made of organic invert sugar (huh?), cane syrup, and natural flavor, the only thing this pancake topper is offering up is a muffin top—spilling over your jeans. If you’ve already got one, then don’t miss these 40 Fun Ways to Drop a Jeans Size, Stat!
Wholesome Organic Light Corn Syrup
2 tbsp: 130 calories, 0 g fat, 30 mg sodium, 32 g carbs, 17 g sugar, 0 g protein
Oh boy. Wholesome, organic, light corn syrup. What’s next? A happy, uplifting, relaxing horror movie? It just doesn’t make sense. And hey, you do your best to avoid products that list corn syrup on the label—so why would you buy it in the first place?
365 Organic Hot Cocoa Mix
2 tbsp: 110 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g sat fat, 140 mg sodium, 24 g carbs, < 1 g fiber, 22 g sugar, 2 g protein
Hot chocolate definitely hits the spot on a cool winter day, but this combination of organic cane syrup solids and organic nonfat dry milk is processed like most other brands. If you need a cocoa fix, try buying the real thing—raw cocoa or raw cacao powder—and adding in a small amount of honey and milk to taste for a better alternative.
365 Organic Salted Caramel Sauce
2 tbsp: 110 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g sat fat, 100 mg sodium, 26 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 23 g sugar, 1 g protein
You can wish and hope that a healthier sauce exists, but caramel sauce is going to be awful for your health, 10 times out of 10. If you can, avoid drowning your already sugar-rich ice cream in the sugary topping. Speaking of ice cream, have you seen our exclusive list of Every Ben & Jerry’s Flavor—Ranked By Nutrition?
365 Orange Mango Juice
8 oz: 120 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g sat fat, 35 mg sodium, 30 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 29 g sugar, 0 g protein
Juices are a particularly deceiving food category when it comes to gauging healthiness. Unless the juice contains mostly vegetables, it would be wise to avoid. Fruit-centric options like this one are saturated with sugar and contain no fiber from the original fruit, which means that your blood sugar will spike, energy will drop, and that sugar will likely turn to fat.
8 oz: 110 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g sat fat, 0 g sodium, 29 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 29 g sugar, 0 g protein
This kind of soda will never be healthy—sorry to disappoint. Whether it’s Coca-Cola, Pepsi, or Whole Food’s 365 brand, soda is made with unpronounceable ingredients that offer no nutrition whatsoever and contains nearly 30 grams of sugar per serving. Find out the 70 Most Popular Sodas Ranked by How Toxic They Are!
365 Cheese Curls
1 oz: 140 calories, 7 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 190 mg sodium, 18 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 2 g protein
Just like soda and chips, cheese curls will never escape junk food status—no matter how hard they try. Whether the bag says they’re natural, organic, or gluten-free, the fact remains that they are cheese puffs and are highly processed. We’ll pass!
365 Honey & Oat Granola
½ cup: 240 calories, 7 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 50 g sodium, 40 g carb, 4 g fiber, 14 g sugar, 5 g protein
“High on my watch list would be granola,” Crandall says. “Everyone thinks it’s really healthy because it looks like it’s healthy, when actually it can be very calorie-laden and have a lot of added sugars and added fats.” A half-cup is a very small amount to be carrying a high 240 calories, so it’s best to go for lower calories and a more nutrient rich choice for breakfast. Whether it’s a couple eggs or one of these 50 Best Overnight Oats Recipes, you have better options.