Finding the right food to stay healthy can be an absolute minefield. Indeed, even when you think you’ve figured it out, labels can be misleading, hiding all sorts of dubious or unhealthy ingredients. These 20 products, for instance, really aren’t what they seem – from an insane 22-ingredient cheese sauce to Oreos that are totally not telling the truth. Yes, it turns out we’ve all been lied to this entire time…
Think you’ve eaten real wasabi? Think again. In fact, the wasabi served at most Japanese restaurants is actually a pale imitation of the real thing, made from horseradish, mustard, corn starch and food coloring. If you want the genuine article, you’ll have to seek it out from specialist distributors. But once you do, you may never be able to go back to the fake stuff…
Grape-Nuts may have been around for more than a century, but that only makes them a 100-year-old misnomer. Yes, the popular cereal actually contains neither grapes nor nuts, instead comprised of flours, soy protein, yeast, salt and malt. Apparently, the name came from a combination of the cereal’s nutty taste and an ingredient in the original recipe. That was maltose, otherwise known as “grape sugar.”
At face value, smoothies seem like a great, healthy alternative to juice. After all, there’s no easier way to get your entire five-a-day in one go. Trouble is, blending up all that fruit means the sugar content is sky high. Brands like Naked, for instance, contain 53g of sugar – that’s more than a can of Pepsi.
It isn’t just smoothies that are misleadingly unhealthy, though. Indeed, diet soda and zero-calorie drinks, despite being apparently free of the dreaded sugar, can be equally as volatile. One study found that regular drinkers of diet soda were more likely to put on weight, perhaps due to the artificial sweeteners affecting their gut on a molecular level.
It’s common knowledge that you can find knock-off versions of pretty much anything in China. Troublingly, this now appears to include food. Yes, fake fare has found its way on to Chinese streets. One such imitation staple is phony chicken eggs. But while they may be cheaper, they’re also made of resin, wax and various chemicals, so it’s probably not worth the trade-off.
And fake food in China doesn’t just stop at eggs – meat can be equally risky. Indeed, bogus mutton is a particular problem in Chinese markets, with meat from rats, foxes and minks passed off as the real deal. In fact, in 2013, authorities arrested 900 people and seized 20,000 tons of fake meat in a clampdown.
If you’ve been eating margarine under the pretense that it’s healthier than butter, prepare to have your world rocked. That’s because a 2013 study found that safflower oil, a common ingredient in margarine, actually led to an increased death rate. The study participants had all been heart attack victims or angina sufferers, with the risk of death doubling for those eating safflower oil products.
It doesn’t get much more quintessentially American than cheese slices. But if it’s actual cheese that you’re after, well, you’re better off looking elsewhere. Indeed, closer inspection of almost any packet of cheese slices will reveal that they’re actually labeled something along the lines of “cheese food.” That’s because products such as Kraft Singles consist of less than 51% cheese, which means it would be illegal to sell it as the real thing.
Yes, as horrifying as it may sound, you can’t even trust Pringles anymore. While it may seem like a legitimate potato chip, only 42 percent of each one is actually comprised of potato. Despite this, in 2009 a British court ruled that they do still count as potato chips (and are therefore subject to an extra tax in the U.K.). We don’t know what to believe anymore.
In most circles, the word “double” means “twice as much.” Not so in the world of Oreos, where “double stuf” actually only means “1.86 times as much.” Those were the findings of a math class at a high school in New York, after teacher Dan Anderson challenged his students to find out for sure whether the cookies backed up the claim on the label.
We hope you’re sitting down for this one. Indeed, it’s quite the revelation: peanuts are in fact not peanuts at all. No, they’re actually legumes, despite their misleading name. The difference is mostly semantic, but does explain why peanut allergy sufferers are still able to eat other nuts. It’s not a nut they’re allergic to, but a legume.
It’s no secret that Doritos aren’t exactly the healthiest snack around, but it’s worth taking a closer look at those nutritional values. While the total fat may not sound too wild at only eight grams, that’s the amount per serving. Well, according to the packaging, one serving is 28g – or the equivalent of just 11 chips. And nobody on Earth has ever eaten just 11 Doritos.
If there’s one sure thing in this universe, it’s that German chocolate cake comes from Germany. Right? Wrong. It’s actually an American invention, named after one Sam German, who in 1852 devised a sweet chocolate bar for Baker’s Chocolate Co. The cake recipe using this chocolate was first published in 1957 and made German a household name – just not one from Germany.
Bananas may be an ideal go-to snack for health-conscious folks, but they’re not nearly as natural as you probably assumed. In fact, thousands of years ago, New Guineans bred two different plants, resulting in plantains – the source of our modern bananas. Since then, more than 1,000 different varieties of banana have sprung up around the globe, but it took some work.
A healthy breakfast can be tricky when crunched for time, but chowing down on a bowl of granola always seemed like a safe option. And while it has its benefits, like iron and fiber, you may be surprised to hear that it’s also full of bad stuff, including sugars, unnecessary oils and of course, excessive calories. Granola bars are no different, rivaling chocolate bars for their sugar content.
When you’re investing in maple syrup – and it can get pretty expensive – it can be easy to find the cheaper varieties tempting. But these are often simply “maple-flavored” syrups rather than the real deal. And while the price difference is notable, so too are the taste, quality and any health benefits. Indeed, genuine maple syrup contains antioxidants, minerals and the easily processed glucose, instead of fatty fructose.
In a pinch, what would you assume are the ingredients for a cheese sauce? If you said “cheese, flour, butter and milk,” well, you’d be plain wrong. At least where store-bought sauces like Kraft’s are concerned, anyway. Incredibly, these contain a whopping 22 different ingredients, among them MSG, palm oil, artificial colors and “enriched macaroni product.” Yeah, you don’t want to know.
For vegetarians, vegans or simply those who fear they’re eating too much red meat, veggie burgers have long been the perfect alternative. Or at least, on the face of it. But look a little closer, and you’ll realize that the soy found in many veggie burgers contains a dangerous compound called hexane, which is a by-product of refining gasoline. Yes, it’s not exactly something you want to be ingesting on a regular basis.
Anyone who’s ever worked out will probably have heard of protein shakes. After all, they’re pushed as a post-workout miracle drink that’ll help build muscle even faster. But there are different types, and some aren’t quite so helpful. The cheaper shakes, for instance, tend to be packed with fat and cholesterol, basically offsetting all the hard work you’re putting into getting fit in the first place.
There’s no denying that wheat bread is healthier than white bread, but life’s never really that simple. Indeed, there are certain types of wheat bread that aren’t quite as great as others. If you want the best stuff, you need to watch out for the label that says “100 percent whole wheat.” Anything less, and you’re sacrificing some of those valuable nutrients for lesser grains.