Sometimes you feel like eating a large slice of cheesecake with nary a thought about calories, fat grams or recommended daily value of vitamin C. It's cheesecake. If it tastes like heaven, its work here is done.
But when you sit down for a nutrition-minded meal, you don't want stealth ingredients sabotaging your good intentions. However, packages can be deceiving. (Heart healthy! Low fat! Full serving of vegetables!) Here, we look at seven foods that appear healthful but contain ingredients you may want to avoid.
Why we bite: It's cheap. It lasts forever. Kids eat it up. It's made of apples. What's not to love?
Reality check: The apples have been peeled and cooked to mush, rendering them nutritionally vacant. Most brands, this one included, have 0 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamins C and A. And some add high-fructose corn syrup to enhance the flavor.
Try: An apple. Depending on its size, an unpeeled apple contains between 10 and 15 percent of your daily value of vitamin C, 1 or 2 percent of your vitamin A, calcium and iron, and up to 5 grams of fiber.
Why we bite: Natural ingredients like rolled oats, rice, nuts and berries — plus savvy packaging — have earned granola a health halo.
Reality check: One 2/3-cup serving of Cascadian Farm organic granola has 14 grams of sugar — more than a single serving of Cocoa Puffs (11 grams), Lucky Charms (11 grams), Trix (12 grams) or Cookie Crisp (10 grams) cereals.
Try: Oatmeal. Cook your own rolled oats for a meal of 150 calories, 3 grams of fat and 1 gram of sugar. When you make it from scratch, you're in control of the add-ons.
Honey-roasted turkey breast
Why we bite: Sliced turkey is often touted as a low-calorie, low-fat lunch staple. And at 50 calories and 0.5 grams of fat per 4-slice serving, this one is a lean and tasty treat.
Reality check: The sodium content, especially in honey or smoked varieties, is high. The Sara Lee Fresh Ideas brand has 550 mg per serving, or 23 percent of your daily value. Throw in an extra few slices and you're up to half your daily value on one sandwich — not counting the condiments and bread. Many brands also contain sodium phosphate and sodium nitrate as preservatives.
Try: Nitrate-free varieties. Applegate Farms' organic smoked and organic roasted turkey breast has a more reasonable 360 mg of sodium per serving.
Why we bite: Good source of calcium, vitamin D, 99 percent fat free, plus those "active cultures" we're always hearing about.
Reality check: L. acidophilus and other cultures are good digestive aids, but yogurt is often packed with sugar. A 6-ounce container of Yoplait peach yogurt has 27 grams. A Duncan Hines Chocolate Lovers brownie with milk chocolate chunks has 18 grams. A serving of Marshmallow Fluff has 6 grams. Dessert, anyone?
Try: Plain yogurt, which usually has no added sugar. Mix in fresh fruit or even a little honey and you'll still cut way back on your sugar intake.
Acai Mixed Berry Juice
Why we bite: The label — boasting a "full serving of vegetables," "full serving of fruits," the American Heart Association checkmark, plus the uber-trendy acai berry — makes this bottle hard to resist.
Reality check: At 110 calories and 26 grams of sugar, an 8-ounce glass has almost as many calories as a serving of Oreo cookies and twice the sugar. The vitamin C content is 100 percent of your recommended daily value, but vitamins A and E are comparatively low at 15 and 10 percent.
Try: A 100 percent vegetable juice, which contains 50 calories, 6 grams of sugar per serving, plus 100 percent of vitamins A, C and E.