Bottled Iced Tea
Beverage companies love to tout their tea drinks as a healthy alternative to soda—and what could be bad here? After all, black and green teas are loaded with antioxidants, and herbal brews can help digestion, an upset stomach—even rattled nerves. But if you check the ingredients list of your "all-natural" bottled iced tea, you may discover a few surprise ingredients in addition to leaves and water. Some sweetened teas rely on high-fructose corn syrup instead of real sugar. And if you're sipping a fruit-flavored tea, you likely won't find real lemons, raspberries, or peaches in there, but instead "natural flavors."
"All natural" shows up on lots of salad dressing labels, but take a look at the extra-long ingredients lists on many of the big brands and it's hard not to feel skeptical. High-fructose corn syrup and "natural flavors" abound—not to mention the fact that bottled dressings are often heavy on other kinds of sweeteners and saturated fat, making them total diet disasters. If you don't want to spoil the healthfulness of your salad, try mixing your own dressing at home with a little extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.
More: 5 Oils Perfect for Everyday Use
Bad news: Nature's perfect sweetener isn't always 100% natural. The jarred honeys you'll find in an average grocery store have all undergone various levels of processing, and it's hard to know how much just from looking at the labels. In fact, according to research by Food Safety News, most store-bought honey isn't technically honey at all, because virtually all of the natural pollen has been filtered out. For truly natural honey—and all the immune-boosting and allergy-fighting benefits that come with it—head to a farmer's market, where you can buy it raw from local beekeepers.
Many so-called "all natural" ice creams contain way more than milk, eggs, and sugar—such as "natural flavors," highly processed sweeteners like corn syrup, modified starches (additives processed from naturally occurring food starches that are often used as thickening agents), and juice concentrates (used as flavors and sweeteners). Not exactly how you'd churn it at home, right? If you're picking up a pint at the grocery store, look for one made with a short list of whole ingredients.
Stroll the aisles of your local grocery and you'll find countless cereal brands that bill themselves as "all natural" and "good sources of fiber and whole grains" but are full of sugar and artificial colors. But even brands we think of as healthy don't always live up to their reputation. Kashi came under fire on social media sites this year for calling its cereals "natural" despite being made with GMO soy. The company subsequently announced that all its new products will be at least 70 percent certified organic and Non-GMO Project Verified by 2015.
More: Are You Eating the Right Breakfast?
Flavored Waters and Sports Drinks
Does this sound like a healthy way to top off your workout? A bottled beverage "naturally sweetened" with barely pronounceable ingredients like erythretrol and crystalline fructose. We'll take a glass of tap with a splash of lemon, thank you very much.
More: Avoid Junk Fitness Foods for Weight Loss
Perfect your nutrition to boost your performance. Sign up for a race near you.