Common ‘Health Foods’ That Are Really Junk Foods in Disguise

Common 'Health Foods’ That Are Really Junk Foods in Disguise
Are all oatmeal’s created equal? Shutterstock.

39. Flavored Instant Oatmeal

Oats are healthy eats, but instant oatmeal often gets a bad reputation. A bowl of classic oatmeal packs a hearty dose of vitamins, protein, and cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber. Oats are a healthy breakfast, but instant oatmeal often gets a bad wrap. Flavored instant oatmeal (think: brown maple sugar or apple cinnamon) are often high in added sugar and sodium. Some flavors are worse than others, so it’s always best to check the label, or buy plain oatmeal and add your own sweeteners to it (think honey, maple syrup, and fruit). By adding your sweeteners, you can control the flavor and the sugar you’re consuming.

Look for oatmeal varieties that list the first ingredient as ‘oats,’ contain less than six grams of sugar and less than 140 milligrams of sodium per serving. Alternatively, choose steel-cut or rolled oats and flavor it using your own cinnamon, nutmeg, and fresh fruit. According to The American Heart Association, like traditional oatmeal, instant is a whole-grain, high-fiber, nutritious food. Though, with flavored products, watch the sodium and sugar levels—aim for less than 250 mg sodium and 12 g sugar per serving. Making your own oatmeal also only takes about 10 minutes total, so the convenience of instant oatmeal isn’t huge.