6 Foods People Think Are Healthy But Aren’t

Whole Wheat Bread

There are a lot of foods out there that people eat because they think they are a healthy choice. Here are a few that are not as healthy as you might think!

Soy Milk

Soy milk is a highly processed product. The soybeans are heated at high temperatures and acid washed in aluminum tanks, so the aluminum may be transferred into the soy milk. Almost all soy in America is genetically modified, and is grown with high levels of pesticide contamination. Processed soy in general has been shown to disrupt endocrine and thyroid function and may negatively affect hormones as well. If you do choose soy, choose a fermented option like tempeh or miso. Read more about the downside of soy.


Although it may look and sound healthy, most granola on the market is loaded with corn syrup or sugar. Your best bet? Make your own granola at home with gluten free oats and sweeten it with raw honey or pure maple syrup. Or try this delicious raw muesli recipe!


Agave nectar has become such a trendy sugar substitute, but the truth is that most agave in the US is highly refined in a process similar to making high fructose corn syrup. Agave is high in fructose, which can contribute to insulin resistance and obesity. Read more on agave. Instead, choose more natural sweeteners like raw honey, maple syrup or dates.

Fruit Juice

With the juicing craze in full swing, people everywhere are guzzling bottles of fruity juices – which is like liquid sugar to the body. If you’re going to drink juice, go for the green ones with minimal fruit. Your best bet is to make it at home or get it from a fresh juice bar! Check out this mojito green juice recipe.

Frozen Yogurt

Frozen yogurt is another one of those foods that pretends to be healthy when it’s usually a big heap of sugar, dairy, artificial sweeteners and chemicals. Next time you’re at your local fro-yo place, ask to see the ingredients list. You’ll probably be shocked! Learn more about the sneaky ingredients in frozen yogurt. Still in need of a frozen treat? Check out our favorite healthy smoothie recipes!

Whole Wheat

Even for people without celiac or a diagnosed “gluten sensitivity,” wheat can be a big trigger for digestive distress, skin issues, immune system suppression and inflammation in the body. Dr. Lipman says “I believe there is no greater drain on one’s energy and trigger for inflammation than gluten.” Read more. Curious to know if removing gluten would help you feel better? Give it up completely for 2 weeks and see if your condition improves. I promise, it’s not as hard as it sounds! Here’s a week’s worth of gluten-free meal ideas.

What are some other foods people think are healthy but really aren’t? We’d love to hear your input!

  • Great list but it made me shudder. For years this would have been my typical breakfast menu. Horrors!
    Another food I’d add to the list would be canola oil. It’s highly processed and inflammatory.

  • lemonpie

    Raw granola – aka müsli – is a breakfast staple in Europe. I didn’t even know about granola until a couple of years ago. I love both versions, although granola is more of a weekend treat.

  • Cynthia Olsen

    I agree with this list and would add corn syrup, sugar ( coconut sugar is lower in gylcemic levels) from ‘Looking up: Seven Steps for a Healthy & Youthful Midlife and Beyond” ( Kali Press) How about the sprouted grain breads? They are not processed to produce the gluten.

  • Cynthia Olsen

    I agree with this list and would add corn syrup, sugar ( coconut sugar is lower in gylcemic levels) from ‘Looking up: Seven Steps for a Healthy & Youthful Midlife and Beyond” ( Kali Press) How about the sprouted grain breads? They are not processed to produce the gluten.

  • Tupelo

    The title of the article is “SIx Foods People Think Are Healthy But Aren’t” so why would corn syrup and sugar belong on this list? Nobody I know thinks either is healthy – even those that couldn’t care less about being healthy.

  • Cynthia Olsen

    Believe it or not there are people that think corn syrup is fine to consume. Also, many canned and bottled foods contain corn syrup. Sugar as well. There are many sugarholics in the world. That is why I included these.

  • Stan

    Corn syrup and sugar aren’t on the list, they are only used as reference points to agave, which “is” on the list.

  • Anonymous

    There are also folks who think donuts are healthy, but you’d have to have a list more like a dictionary for them. This list is for the ones that have a better grasp of nutrition, Knowmsain?

  • Cynthia Olsen

    one would hope so!! I have been in the natural health movement for many years and it is amazing to see how many people in that industry are not that healthy!!

  • Donuts! That’s awesome.

  • Some granolas are legit. You just have to watch out for the super sugary ones with processed vegetable oils.

  • Such a good call. Canola oil needs its own blog post!

  • Yikes! Yeah, staying away from processed foods as much as possible is the way to go.

  • John R,M. Day, M.D.

    Regarding the whole wheat/grain/gluten issue I want to offer some personal perspective, and expand on this subject; perhaps helping others who have similar genetics as me. I believe that the condition I am about to describe is rather common, especially among type O blood group.
    I recently did a cheek swab genetic testing for HLA-DQ status and I was found to be homozygous at HLA-DQ 1 alleles. This means that I will be sensitive to the prolamine chemistry which is present in all grains.
    All grains are grasses, and all of these grains have evolved various prolamine compounds to help protect them from predation. Prolamines cause an increase in the gut lumen of the chemical zonulin. Zonulin acts to widen the gap in the intestinal mucosal tight junctions. As a result, larger food macromolecules translocate from the gut lumen to the bloodstream more readily, and we have the whole “leaky gut” phenomenon. Autoimmune and inflammatory chemistry ensue.
    In my case, I simply stopped all grain consumption. The prolamine effect is problematic even at concentrations as low as 20 parts per million. This chemistry is pervasive in processed foods and is guised as a variety of names. Just licking an envelope or a stamp can be a problem.
    My website is http://www.HaelanLifeStream.com if you should want to contact me.
    Thank you Jenny for this article.

  • lemonpie

    I actually like to make my own! It’s absolutely delicious.

  • louisecross

    yep Canola needs to go on the list

  • Anonymous

    Tell the doc to learn how the immune system works, he might be surprised that its an autoimmune problem that damages the gut as it attacks tissue as well as organs, not the food itself, the food merely triggers the response from an already overactive immune system because the proteins aren’t supposed to enter the body as they are too big. That is why some people can eat gluten, milk and soy foods with no problems, and others cant. Balance the immune system while removing the foods to give the body time to heal the gut at the same time, so it no longer make those antibodies in response, before reintroducing the foods. It is doable, I have done it.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting. In some cases there is always that genetic aspect.