10 Healthy Foods That Are Making You Fat

Amy Hendel | July 27, 2015

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We’re often told that certain foods are very healthy, and should be a regular part of our diets. The problem is that some “healthy” foods might still be quite caloric, and if consumed without considering portion sizes, can mean you may actually end up gaining weight. Here’s the scoop on healthy foods that require a little portion control.

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Guacamole

Avocados are full of healthy fat (omega-3 fatty acids), and contain protein. They also have relatively low levels of sugar for a fruit (yes, it’s a fruit), while offering vitamin B5, K, fiber, magnesium and other minerals. Problem is due to its high fat content, it also has high calories. Just one avocado has 250 calories, and if you’re eating it with chips or bread, you’re likely consuming more than one.

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Whole grain pastas and cereals

So-called, “white versions” of rice, pasta and cereal (meaning highly processed), require tight portion control. But healthy whole grains, even with their higher fiber and nutrients, still break down into sugars. Just because cereal is 100 percent whole wheat, or has healthy grains, does not mean you should forget about portion control. For most cereals, a half cup to two-thirds cup is an appropriate size.

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Homemade trail mix

Nutritionists suggest making your own trail mix to avoid the granola (high sugar) content of processed trail mix. Homemade mix includes dried fruit, nuts, cereal and healthy broken whole-grain crackers. These offer a healthy snack if portion control is used. A small handful is more than enough for an energy boost.

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Olive oil

Yes, you should be cooking and prepping food with healthier oils such as mono-unsaturated olive oil, as these oils can help lower cholesterol, improve heart health, and help you feel full. But even healthy oil has calories. One tbsp of olive oil has 119 calories, so consider misting or using a measuring spoon. 

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Hummus

This is a perfect substitution for artery-clogging mayonnaise on a sandwich as a healthier dip, and an excellent source of protein, low in saturated fat. But a half cup of commercially prepared hummus (mashed chickpeas, sesame butter, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice) can have as much as 200 calories and is often high in sodium. So, read the labels and use portion control.  It’s easy to make your own in a blender or food processor and limit salt.

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100 percent juice

Even 100 percent juice is still way too high in sugar and calories to be a daily thirst quencher. Without biting into fruit and slowly chewing and swallowing, the sugar in juice enters your bloodstream a lot quicker. It’s also easier to drink two to three cups when thirsty. But control yourself. Juice a few times a week and a 6 to 8 ounce serving in place of fruit is best.

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Nut butters

It’s the perfect energizing food, full of healthy fat, protein and in most cases calcium. The problem is many commercial brands add sugar, salt and oil. If the butter has “just nuts,” then it is still somewhat high in calories (18-230 calories per 2 tbsps). Since fruit, bread or crackers are also used to enjoy the butter, remember to carefully measure a portion size of 1 to 2 tbsps and put the jar away.

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100 percent organic nutrition bars

It’s a misconception that “organic” foods have a perfect health halo. Yes, organic can be a good choice for fruits and vegetables, especially ones we eat with skin or other foods. The caveat is that organic candy is still candy and does not mean calorie-free. Consider 150 calories an acceptable snack and 200 to 250 calories, plus fruit and a drink, a small meal.

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Smoothies

They can be the perfect breakfast, lunch or even large snack if the recipe is thoughtful when it comes to ingredients and portions.  When you start adding lots of juice, nut butters, syrups or other “treat” add-ins, you can really boost the sugar, fat and calorie amounts. A pre-workout smoothie can boost performance during your exercise effort.

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Quinoa

It’s being touted as a wonderful swap out for more processed grains because quinoa has a higher protein profile than most grains. If you don’t measure out a portion, it can be easy to consume 500 calories of this grain without realizing it. A cup of cooked quinoa has about 222 calories, so this healthy grain is a perfect side dish so long as you exercise portion control.