‘Healthy foods’ you thought were good for you — but aren’t actually

Like most people, we try to eat somewhat healthy, or at least we think about eating a salad the next time we tuck into takeout. But there are some foods that we can count on to be good for us, like leafy greens, fish, and grapefruit, that Instagram-friendly breakfast that’s basically shorthand for “Look how healthy I am.” Really though, that’s all there is to it — know what you’re eating, be smart about your eating choices, and as a general rule of thumb, don’t eat an entire bakery case/pizzeria at once.

Well, we hate to break it to you, but as science delves closer at some of our favorite healthy foods and the way they affect human bodies, there’s evidence to suggest that we have much to learn about both what the former means and how the latter plays out. The discussions around these foods are far from the Diet Coke debate — these are verifiably capital-H Healthy food, except, y’know, maybe actually not. Now, let’s tuck into it:

Grapefruit and orange juice are not the perfect way to start mornings

How many people suggest eating half a grapefruit for breakfast as an easy, super healthy way to begin the day? How many people drink orange juice on the regular? The answers for both are easily in the millions, but a new study has linked the high consumption of two of our most popular citrus fruits with a higher risk of developing skin cancer. The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, found that consuming 1.6 portions of citrus fruit daily (with a portion consisting of an orange, half a grapefruit, or a 6 oz glass of either’s juice) increases someone’s risk of a melanoma by 36%. Though researchers stress for people not to freak out, maybe up your sun protection anyway.

Salad are not the end all, be all of healthiness

Ahh, all that crunchy lettuce and spinach and cucumbers and tomatoes and all-around quality goodness! Except, well, you might start feeling really hungry again, really fast. That’s because the leafy greens that form the meat (heh) of salads are generally composed of 90% water, meaning that you’re not actually getting that much nutrition from the servings. (A problem solved by, well, cooking your greens.) Also, there’s the whole salad dressing/salad contents debate, which can add up to as many calories as a lean burger.

 Some multi-grain breads = meh on healthiness

We all know by now that white bread is terrible for you, but that’s why whole-grain bread is the best. After all, anything with whole chunks of uh, grains(?), means it’s super rustic and wholesome and thus great for you, right? Mm, maybe not: The current wave of whole-grain products isn’t regulated in terms of how much of their food content is actually whole-grain, and often don’t contain much of the fiber they’re supposed to bring to the table. Remember: Always read the label and actually look through nutrition information.

Flavored soy milk is like sugar milk

Soy milk in general? Not a problem (unless you count for its environmental impact, but that’s not this article). But adding flavors like vanilla and chocolate to soy milk just ups the sugar content, which is the same issue as many fruit juices, smoothies, energy drinks, and of course our good/bad friend soda. Stick with the regular kind and eat chocolate (in moderation) in your own time.

Margarine not better than butter

Everybody knows that margarine is better than butter, except that’s not true. Though it’s oftentimes billed as healthier, margarine has way more trans fat than its counterpart, which lowers good cholesterol and ups bad cholesterol. Skip it, and go instead for the whipped real thing.

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