3 “Healthy” Foods to Watch Out For

Do not be fooled by these three foods that appear healthy but may not always be beneficial for us.


Breakfast cereals

Australian consumer organisation Choice found that some of the best-loved cereals may not be as healthy as you will expect.

Depending on where you are, there may be guides on the pack giving you a quick way to see how nutritious a product is. These will usually take into account ‘good’ things like protein and fibre. But it will not tell you how natural or unrefined the ingredients are, whether the product contains artificial preservatives, colours and flavours, or how processed the product is.

“Highly processed breakfast cereals often have fibre and protein added to increase their health rating,” says accredited practising dietitian and Choice food expert Shadia Djakovic.

“Rolled oats have a high rating due to their naturally-occurring fibre content. But they have only one ingredient – oats – which means they have a higher rating without the need for any added nutrients to make them healthier.

“Look at the shape and colour, does it look like a natural product?” says Djakovic. “If it is far from natural-looking, chances are it is highly processed and needs things like salt and sugar to make it taste good.”


Watch out for salads, warns accredited practising dietitian Melissa Meier in body&soul. We think of them as a healthy option but they are not always the best thing on the menu, she says.

Salads contain vegetables, but may come loaded with refined carbohydrates and processed meats, says Meier. And store-bought dressings often contain way too much sodium (which may increase blood pressure), with some also high in added sugar and saturated fat.

The best bet is to make your own dressing, says Meier, with good quality oil such as extra virgin olive oil, a splash of vinegar or citrus juice, and some flavour in the form of mustard, pepper and dried herbs and spices.

Protein bars

Protein bars are promoted as a healthy snack to fill the protein gap in our diets and help build muscle.

But most people do not need extra protein as they get enough through their diet, says Dietitians Australia. For those who do need more, foods naturally high in protein like eggs, fish, yoghurt, nuts, tofu and beans are good choices as they also add nutrients.

Protein bars vary significantly in quality, so it pays to read labels. Many are full of sugar, salt, artificial sweeteners and colours, and oils and thickeners that add kilojoules without making you healthier.