America's Worst Supermarket Foods There may be no place on the planet more daunting than the American supermarket. By David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding, Men's Health
From the produce section to the frozen-food aisle, the modern-day market is loaded with 50,000 food choices, all vying for your hard-earned money. That's why we created the Eat This, Not That! Supermarket Survival Guide, the brand-new follow-up to our national bestselling nutrition books that will help you cut through marketing mysteries and food-label lies in order to make the smart choices that lead to fast and permanent weight loss for you and your loved ones.
And there's no better way to start slimming down in 2009 than by eliminating the most egregious offenders in the supermarket from your shopping cart. Some are conspicuous calorie bombs, others are junk food masquerading as healthy food, but all 20 of these foods have one thing in common: They'll undermine your efforts to lose weight and feel great. So study up on the list of the Worst Supermarket Foods (and while you're at it, don't forget the 20 Worst Restaurant Foods in America ), and resolve to master your market in 2009.
20. WORST CRUNCHY SNACK
Gardetto's Special Request Roasted Garlic Rye Chips (1/2 cup, 30 g) 160 calories 10 g fat (2 g saturated, 2.5 g trans) 40 mg sodium
Gardetto extracts the worst part of its Original snack mix and tries to serve it as a gourmet snack—a sneaky move that might have serious repercussions for even casual munchers. Each single serving exceeds the amount of trans fat deemed safe to consume daily by the American Heart Association.
Fat equivalent: 3 strips of bacon
Eat This Instead: Snyder's of Hanover Sourdough Nibblers (16 pieces, 30 g) 120 calories 0 g fat 200 mg sodium
19. WORST COOKIE
Pillsbury Big Deluxe Classics White Chunk Macadamia Nut (dough; 1 cookie, 38 g) 180 calories 10 g fat (3 g saturated, 2 g trans) 13 g sugars
Stick to Nestlé Toll House when it comes to big-brand cookie dough; the people of Pillsbury have a penchant for scattering trans fats across your market's refrigerated section. This cookie has one load of dangerous oils mixed into the flour and another blended with sugar and interspersed throughout the dough as "white confectionery chunks."
Fat equivalent: 5 "fun" size 3 Musketeers bars
Eat This Instead: Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (1 1/2-inch ball, 28 g) 130 calories 6 g fat (2.5 g saturated) 11 g sugars
18. WORST YOGURT
Stonyfield Farm Whole Milk Chocolate Underground (6 oz.) 220 calories 5 g fat (3 g saturated) 36 g sugars
Stonyfield is notorious for being a little too generous with the sugar, but the nearly 3 tablespoons in their Chocolate Underground is bad even by their supersweet standards. Not even Ben & Jerry's makes a flavor of ice cream with this much sugar. (Check out the rest of America's Most-Sugar Packed Foods.)
Sugar equivalent: 4 Cherry Popsicles
Eat This Instead: Breyers Cookies n'Cream YoCrunch Lowfat with Oreo Pieces (6 oz.) 120 calories 2.5 g fat (1 g saturated) 11 g sugars
17. WORST CANDY
Twix (1 package, 2 oz.) 280 calories 27 g sugars 14 g fat (11 g saturated)
Twix takes the already-dubious candy-bar reputation and drags it through a murky pool of saturated fat. With more than half the USDA's daily consumption recommendation for these dangerous fats in each package, this is one hazardous after-lunch snack.
Saturated fat equivalent: 11 strips of bacon (OMG! I love Twix... especially the peanut butter ones... which I'm sure have more fat! Sad day...I'll never look at these the same again.)
Eat This Instead: 100 Grand (1 package) 190 calories 22 g sugars 8 g fat (5 g saturated)
16. WORST CONDIMENT
Eggo Original Syrup (1/4 c) 240 calories 40 g sugars
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but not when this sugar slick hits the table. Excluding water, the first three ingredients are all different forms of sugar. If you want real syrup, make sure it's 100 percent maple.
Sugar equivalent: Two Häagen-Dazs Vanilla & Almond ice cream bars
Eat This Instead: Smucker's Sugar Free Breakfast Syrup (1/4 c) 20 calories 0 g sugars
15. WORST ICE CREAM
Häagen-Dazs Chocolate Peanut Butter (1/2 c) 360 calories 24 g sugars 24 g fat (11 g saturated)
Häagen-Dazs makes great-tasting ice cream with an impressively short ingredient list, but that doesn't make up for the fact that their pints are consistently the fattiest in the freezer.
Fat equivalent: 1 McDonald's Double Cheeseburger
Eat This Instead: Edy's Slow Churned Peanut Butter Cup (1/2 c) 130 calories 13 g sugars 6 g fat (3 g saturated)
14. WORST DRINK
AriZona Kiwi Strawberry (23.5 oz. can) 353 calories, 0 g fat 82 g sugars
It claims to be blended juice, but only 5 percent of this can is any sort of real-fruit derivative. The remaining 95 percent is a blend of water and high-fructose corn syrup. (Believe it or not, this pales in comparison to some of the other Unhealthiest Drinks in America.)
Sugar equivalent: 4 Original Fudgsicle Bars
Drink This Instead: Tropicana Lime Raspberry Fruit Squeeze (15.2 oz. bottle) 35 calories, 0 g fat 7 g sugars
13. WORST "HEALTHY" PANTRY ITEM
Pop-Tarts Whole Grain Brown Sugar Cinnamon (2 pastries) 400 calories 14 g fat (4 g saturated) 5 g fiber, 28 g sugars
Whole grain ain't the whole truth. There's also a glut of vegetable oil and seven types of sugar stuffed inside. (I'm cracking up - never in my life have I ever used the words "healthy" and "Pop-Tart" in the same sentence!)
Sugar equivalent: 1 Snickers bar
Eat This Instead: Sun-Maid Raisin English Muffins with Cinnamon (1 muffin) 170 calories 0.5 g fat (0 g saturated) 2 g fiber, 13 g sugars
12. WORST FROZEN "HEALTHY" ENTRÉE
Healthy Choice Complete Selections Sweet & Sour Chicken (340 g) 430 calories 9 g fat (1 g saturated) 600 mg sodium 29 g sugars
Since when has fried chicken been healthy? Certainly not when it's cloaked in sugar. (wow... I knew frozen meals were some sort of conspiracy!)
Eat This Instead: Kashi Southwest Style Chicken (283 g) 240 calories 5 g fat (0 g saturated) 680 mg sodium
11. WORST CEREAL
Quaker 100% Natural Granola, Oats, Honey & Raisins (1 c) 420 calories 12 g fat (7 g saturated) 6 g fiber, 30 g sugars
Granola, for all its good reputation, is usually weighed down by a deluge of added sugars. In fact, for the same amount of sugar, you could have a bowl of Cocoa Pebbles more than twice the size—and you'd get more fiber and save about 60 calories in fat.
Calorie equivalent: 8 chicken wings
Eat This Instead: Kashi GOLEAN (1 c) 140 calories 1 g fat (0 g saturated) 10 g fiber/6 g sugars
10. WORST PACKAGED PASTA
Pasta Roni Fettuccine Alfredo (1 c prepared with 2 percent milk and margarine) 450 calories 25 g fat (7 g saturated, 3.5 g trans) 1,140 mg sodium
Once again Alfredo proves itself to be the biggest belt-busting option on the shelf. This side has a meal's worth of calories, and if you try to turn it into a meal in itself, expect to top 1,000 calories.
Sodium equivalent: 4 medium orders of McDonald's French fries
Eat This Instead: Pasta Roni Nature's Way Olive Oil & Italian Herb (1 c prepared with water and olive oil) 250 calories 8 g fat (1.5 g saturated) 800 mg sodium
9. WORST BAKED GOOD
Otis Spunkmeyer Banana Nut Muffins (1 muffin, 114 g) 460 calories 22 g fat (3 g saturated) 2 g fiber, 32 g sugars
Despite popular belief, muffins are very rarely healthy. Case in point: The first ingredient in this muffin is sugar. The result is metabolic mayhem: Blood sugar climbs, pancreas goes into overdrive, and the body begins storing sugar as fat. Shortly after, you'll feel sluggish and crave more sugar. (Interesting - I would have thought their chocolate chocolate chip muffins would have been worse than the banana nut.)
Sugar equivalent: 3 1/2 Rice Krispies Treats
Eat This Instead: Vitalicious Apple Berry Muffin (1 muffin) 100 calories 0 g fat 5 g fiber, 10 g sugars
8. WORST FROZEN TREAT
Toll House Ice Cream Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich (1 sandwich) 520 calories 23 g fat (9 g saturated) 44 g sugars
Do you really want more than a quarter of your day’s calories to come from an ice-cream novelty? If you're going to take in this much fat and calories in one sitting, it better be dinner.
Calorie equivalent: Two slices of hand-tossed pepperoni pizza from Pizza Hut
Eat This Instead: Skinny Cow Low Fat Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwich (1 sandwich) 140 calories 2 g fat (1 g saturated) 15 g sugars
7. WORST INDIVIDUAL SNACK
Hostess Chocolate Pudding Pie (1 pie) 520 calories 45 g sugars 24 g fat (14 g saturated, 1.5 g trans)
Skip past the enriched flour and water on the ingredient list and here's what you get: animal shortening, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, modified corn starch, butter, chocolate liqueur, and so on. Any one of these ingredients alone might prompt you to raise an eyebrow, but taken together they should invoke a gag reflex and a sprint for something far healthier.
Eat This Instead: Chocolatey Drizzle Rice Krispies Treat 100 calories 8 g sugars 3 g fat (1 g saturated)
6. WORST PACKAGED LUNCH
Oscar Mayer Maxed Out Turkey & Cheddar Cracker Combo Lunchables (1 package) 680 calories 61 g sugars 22 g fat (9 g saturated, 1 g trans) 1,440 mg sodium
Here's your first clue that this meal has issues: The ingredient list—in its squinty small type—is a full 4 inches long. It includes just about every form of fat and sugar you can imagine. Your child deserves better.
Calorie equivalent: 15 Chicken McNuggets
Eat This Instead: Oscar Mayer Deli Creations Fajita Beef & Salsa Flatbread (145 g) 280 calories 9 g fat (4 g saturated) 890 mg sodium
5. WORST STIR-FRY
Bertolli Grilled Chicken Alfredo & Fettuccine Complete Skillet Meal for Two (1/2 package, 340 g) 710 calories 1,370 mg sodium 42 g fat (22 g saturated)
A dinner for two should get your blood flowing, not stuff your arteries with more than the entire day's saturated fat.
Saturated fat equivalent: 22 strips of bacon
Eat This Instead: Birds Eye Steamfresh Meals for Two Grilled Chicken in Roasted Garlic Sauce (1/2 bag, 340 g) 340 calories 880 mg sodium 13 g fat (5 g saturated)
4. WORST FROZEN BREAKFAST
Jimmy Dean Pancake and Sausage Links Breakfast Bowls 710 calories 890 mg sodium 31 g fat (11 g saturated)
As if the calories, fat, and refined carbohydrates weren't bad enough, Jimmy D tops the whole thing with two Hershey's bars' worth of sugar.
Calorie equivalent: 6 bowls of Froot Loops
Eat This Instead: Jimmy Dean D-lights Breakfast Bowls Turkey Sausage (198 g) 230 calories 730 mg sodium 7 g fat (3 g saturated)
3. WORST FROZEN PIZZA
DiGiorno for One Garlic Bread Crust Supreme Pizza 850 calories 1,450 mg sodium 44 g fat (15 g saturated, 3.5 g trans)
The bloated crust and the greasy toppings will saddle you with 60 percent of your day's sodium, 75 percent of your day's saturated fat, and nearly twice the amount of trans fats you should take in daily.
Eat This Instead: South Beach Diet Deluxe Pizza 340 calories 660 mg sodium 11 g fat (4 g saturated)
2. WORST FROZEN ENTRÉE
Hungry-Man Classic Fried Chicken 1,020 calories 1,570 mg sodium 57 g fat (12 g saturated)
They should rename the company Hungry-Men, because there's no way a single man needs more than a pound of fatty fried chicken, oily potatoes, and a brownie.
Calorie equivalent: 5 Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Doughnuts
Eat This Instead: Banquet Select Chicken Parmesan 350 calories 870 mg sodium 15 g fat (3.5 g saturated)
1. WORST PACKAGED FOOD IN AMERICA
Marie Callender's Creamy Parmesan Chicken Pot Pie 1,060 calories 1,440 mg sodium 64 g fat (24 g saturated)
Marie Callender's perpetrates the ultimate sleight of hand here: The nutrition information says this medium-size entrée has two servings, but honestly, when have you ever split a potpie? Lard-strewn pastry tops and cream-based fillings are the lowest common denominators of the nutritionally nefarious potpie, and this one, with an ingredient list that reads like an O-Chem final, beats out dozens of horrendous iterations to earn this special place on our list.
Sodium equivalent: 8 small bags of potato chips (Holy COW!)
Fat equivalent: 23 strips of bacon
Calorie equivalent: 7 Taco Bell Fresco Beef Tacos
Eat This Instead: Marie Callender's Oven Baked Chicken (369 g) 320 calories 990 mg sodium 12 g fat (3 g saturated)