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Kind granola bars aren't actually that healthy — and other "health food" surprises

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You choose an energy bar over a chocolate bar. You opt for granola instead of Lucky Charms. Surely those are the healthier, more virtuous options, right? Except when they're not.

In many cases, the foods that are marketed as "healthy" don't actually live up to the hype. Consider the latest crackdown on Kind Healthy Snacks. According to Bloomberg news, "At least four of Kind LLC's self-proclaimed healthy bars are in violation of 'healthy' labeling requirements." Last month, the company received a warning letter form the Food and Drug Administration, which read: "Your products do not meet the requirements for use of the nutrient content claim 'healthy' on a food label."

Specifically, the FDA mandates that "healthy" foods have less than 1 gram of saturated fat, but four of their snack bars exceed that. Eating a lot of saturated fat is associated with higher levels of cholesterol in the blood and an increased risk of heart attacks and angina.

Hidden sugar is another health culprit. The latest draft nutritional guidelines for America recommend no more than 10 percent of one's total daily caloric intake come from added sugars — which are linked with obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. When you compare the added sugar content in your yogurt, cereal or favorite beverages, you might discover that the packaging's claims to health mask a hefty serving of extra sugar.

Try our quiz below, ranking each food from lowest (at the top) to highest (at the bottom) added sugar per serving. You should get a sense of just how much sugar is hidden in the foods you eat.

  • Cereal (Lucky Charms, 27 g)
  • Vanilla yogurt (Chobani, 150 g)
  • Chocolate energy bar (Clif brownie bar, 68 g)
  • Chocolate bar (Hershey’s, 43 g)
  • Yogurt and fruit parfait (McDonald’s, 5.2 oz)
  • Vanilla pudding (SnackPack, 156 g)
  • Jelly beans (Jelly Belly, 40 g)
  • Granola with raisins (Kellogg’s, 49 g)
  • Soda (Coca-Cola, 12 fl. oz)
  • Vanilla almond milk (Almond Breeze, 240 mL)
  • Blended coffee (Starbucks Caffè Vanilla Frappuccino, 12 fl. oz)
  • Banana berry smoothie (Jamba Juice, 16 fl. oz)


Note: We're not suggesting people opt for chocolate over protein- and fiber-rich granola, for example, but just that sugar can lurk where you least expect it and sometimes, especially, in packaged foods that are marketed for health.