Trendy Diet Foods can be Stealthily Unhealthy

Agave nectar is made in a process similar to high-fructose corn syrup.

Photo Credit: Lauren Lowe

As the nation grows increasingly more health-conscious, more and more people are trading their sugary and full-fat snacks for lighter food items. Some dieters are turning to foods that are advertised as healthy, but studies show that they really are not that different from the items they are meant to replace. Here are some “healthy” foods that may not actually be so great for you.

Diet Soda

Typically, there are more unfamiliar ingredients listed on bottles of diet soda than there are familiar ingredients. Most varieties contain the sweetener aspartame, which continues to be a subject of controversy. Some doctors claim and rumors continue to circulate that aspartame is linked to various diseases and cancer, but according to the American Cancer Society, there is no concrete evidence proving it is or is not linked.

“Aspartame is used in many foods and beverages because it is about 200 times sweeter than sugar, so much less of it can be used to give the same level of sweetness,” the American Cancer Society website says. “This, in turn, lowers the calories in the food or beverage.” 

Agave Nectar

Agave nectar is a trendy sweetener made from agave plants, the same plants from which tequila is made. Blue Agave is most often used for making nectar, according to

But this may surprise some; Jenny Sansouci writes for the Epoch Times that “most agave in the U.S. is highly refined in a process similar to making high fructose corn syrup.”

Undergraduate research assistant Carolina Baumanis said, “There’s no nutrients in [agave nectar] like honey or maple syrup,” but she adds that the sweetness is concentrated so you can use much less, therefore consuming less calories than you would with other sweeteners.


“A lot of stuff they call ‘granola’ at the store is loaded with sugar and fat,” journalism graduate student Brian Baresch said.

Dietician Tanya Zuckerbrot told “something like Fiber One has 60 calories per half cup and 14 grams of fiber versus a half cup of granola, which was 240 calories, 5 to 10 grams of fat and just 3 grams of fiber.”

But lovers of granola shouldn’t fret; Sansouci recommends making your own low-calorie granola with honey and oats. Recipes can be found in all corners of the Internet. 


The healthiness of sushi depends on the roll, but the main culprit is white rice. White rice is full of carbohydrates, much like white bread. The batter in a tempura roll tacks on more carbs. A roll with a creamy sauce, cream cheese or avocado is just adding fat to the mix. The best approach is to order a balanced roll or a roll with protein.

Applied learning and development junior Melanie Gomez suggested opting for brown rice or rice-free rolls if you’re trying to be healthy at a sushi bar.

“Tuna sashimi, for example, has about 35 calories and 1 gram of fat per ounce,” an article on says. “But a spicy tuna roll has 290 calories and 11 grams of fat, and a tempura roll has 320 calories and 17 grams of fat.”