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The Worst Foods You Should Never Have In Your Kitchen

Experts agree, these offenders lurking in your kitchen are not doing you any favors.

It seems like definitions for "healthy" and "unhealthy" foods are changing all the time. So when you're trying to be mindful of which items you should and shouldn't be stocking up on, it can make a trip to the grocery store a bit complicated. You want to make sure you're eating the healthiest foods you can, but there are just some foods out there that will trick you into thinking they're great when nutritionally speaking, they're equivalent to a candy bar. Big yikes.

So in order to help you avoid filling up your shopping cart with foods that will just wreck your weight-loss goals, we rounded up 15 of the biggest offenders, aka the foods you should never have in your kitchen that even experts would agree are a total no-go.


Dried Fruit

dried fruit

Dried fruit might seem like a smart way to have a healthy snack on hand, as it's much easier to carry around a little box of these than an entire fruit salad. But as Amy Shapiro MS, RD, CDN, and Eat This, Not That! medical expert board once pointed out, "when you dry the fruit, you remove the water and therefore make it more concentrated. So a plum becomes a prune and you can eat five prunes faster than you can eat five plums and get a huge sugar hit. No, thank you! Also, many dried fruits are sweetened with fruit juice or sugar to take away the tartness."


Low-Fat Snacks

Low fat

Don't fall for this clever wording! Low-fat foods are simply a no-go. Many items labeled as low-fat are filled with unhealthy ingredients—because they're so processed—such as added sugars, vegetable oils, and artificial preservatives. These are ingredients that have little nutritional value and try to mimic the consistency and even the flavor of the full-fat versions. You're better off eating an actual cookie every once in a while instead of a low-fat imposter!


Flavored Yogurt


The problem with flavored yogurts? They can have as much sugar as a can of soda, especially when it comes to the options that come with fruit at the bottom…They're swimming in more sugar! This is not an ideal way to kickstart your morning or indulge in a midday snack. Instead, it's best to buy plain yogurt and just add fresh fruit and some nuts to it.

These products are selling a lie (much like these other 'healthy' foods that are actually terrible for you!).



Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post via Getty Images; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post/Getty Images

Another seemingly healthy food you'll want to kick to the curb? Granola. Again, it all comes down to the sugar.

"Certain granolas can actually contain more sugar and calories than processed cereals. Avoid granolas that contain more than 6 grams of sugar per serving and brands that use artificial flavors and sweeteners," registered dietitian Jillian Kubala, MS, RD advises in a previous article.


Rice Cakes

Rice cakes

Rice cakes might seem like a perfectly harmless snack, but there really isn't much going on with them nutrition-wise. They don't have significant fiber or protein, and they're known for being high on the glycemic index (GI), which measures how quickly your blood rises in response to food.

Basically, you'll be hungry again in no time. No thanks!


Packaged Oatmeal

Packaged Oatmeal
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

If you're making oatmeal yourself with some steel-cut oats and fresh fruit, you're on your way to a healthy, filling breakfast. The problem with the instant packaged variety is that while they are convenient, they're also packed with added sugars that can steal your energy and ultimately make you hungrier faster.


Premade Bottled Smoothies


Grab-and-go smoothies seem great in theory. They're an easy and tasty way to get your fruit in for the day, right? Not so fast. Once again, sugar is to blame; the average smoothies contain anywhere from 30-60 grams of sugar. You're much better off making your own and having control over exactly what ingredients go inside!



cola carbonated liquid fresh and cool iced drink in a glasses

This one should come as a no-brainer by now, but sodas (including diet sodas) should really never be a regular part of your diet. Between the astronomically high amount of sugar, which makes it hard for the body to maintain healthy glucose and insulin levels, to the fact that drinking soda can lead to weight gain (hello, high-fructose corn syrup), according to a study from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, there really is nothing redeeming about the fizzy stuff.




Agave is sometimes billed as the better-for-you alternative to sugar, but it really isn't. It's high in fructose, which can cause high cholesterol and belly fat. As Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD told us, "Yes, it comes from a plant, but it has little to no nutritional value."




You can most likely guess what the issue is with these processed cereals. Yes, it's all that sugar! If you take a look at the nutrition labels, this breakfast food is often high in calories, fat, and carbs, too.

Your best bet is to start your day off with a protein such as eggs, which helps you stay full, energized, and focused, instead of crashing from the sugar. It's no wonder cereal is on the list of The Worst Breakfast Foods You Should Never Start Your Day With!


Deli Meat

deli meats on wood plate

The legend of the processed foods strikes again! Deli meats are packed with sodium and chemicals that you wouldn't get if you eat pure meat instead, as they're often preserved or cured with nitrates. And nitrates have been linked to an increased risk of certain types of cancer.



nutella in wooden bowl

Yes, this spread is made from hazelnuts, but don't let the nut aspect fool you. Nutella seems healthy, as nut butters can be, but the ingredients list is filled mostly with sugar and palm oil, with one serving clocking in with 21 grams of sugar. Leave this on the shelf and far away from your slice of toast!


Store-Bought Ketchup


You might think a condiment made from tomatoes would be sweet enough without a lot of additives, but store-bought ketchup is actually loaded with sugar and other artificial ingredients. It's normally made with only tomatoes, sugar, vinegar, and spices. You don't want to spread some high fructose corn syrup on that burger, do you?



Bran Muffins

Muffins seem harmless too, but they're basically just as bad as cupcakes. Some are even more calorie-dense than your average frosted cupcake—which contains a ton of sweetener! Besides the high sugar thanks to all that high-fructose corn syrup, many packaged muffins actually have soybean oil and plenty of shortening, which is trouble for your waistline and overall health.




Pretzels tend to have a reputation for being a better alternative to potato chips, but they're just as salty. Plus, pretzels are also made of refined carbohydrates. So what do they do? Well, they cause your blood sugar levels to spike, and contain barely any fiber, protein, or healthy fats, meaning this snack is doing nothing to satisfy your hunger. Skip these, too!

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