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Why Some Health Foods Aren't So Healthy After All

Are kale chips and mango smoothies a smart choice? Don't be fooled by the "health halo" warns food sociologist Dina Rose.

Noshing on healthy foods is a healthy eating habit, right? Wrong—at least some of the time.For starters, people assume many foods are healthier than they really are because they contain one or two nutritious ingredients. Researchers call this the “health halo” effect.Each serving of Terra Sweet Potato Chips has more calories (160 versus 140), more fat (11 grams versus eight grams), more sugar (three grams versus less than one gram), and less protein (one gram versus two grams) than the same-size serving of Cape Cod Kettle Cooked Potato Chips.One-half cup of Breyers Natural Vanilla Ice cream has 14 grams of sugar. Measuring by volume, a comparable serving of Dannon All Natural Vanilla Yogurt has around 17 grams of sugar. One 12-ounce Odwalla Mango Tango Fruit Smoothie has more sugar than a 12-ounce serving of Coca-Cola (44 g versus 39 g), and as much sugar as nine Oreo cookies.On the surface, this last comparison doesn’t seem fair. The Oreos don’t have a lot going for them, and the smoothie has its “health halo”—real fruit. But let’s just say you ate those nine Oreos.  You’d take in two more gr …

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