Nutritionists Rank The Worst Things You Buy At The Grocery Store

Egg Substitutes By consuming egg substitutes, you are neglecting a plethora of nutrients. Egg substitutes mainly consist of egg whites, resulting in a lack of the… Alexander Gabriel - July 25, 2023

Let’s unveil the “Dirty Thirty” – a comprehensive list of the top 30 unhealthiest grocery store items that should raise a red flag in your shopping cart. These items, often lurking on the shelves disguised as innocent treats, can sabotage your health goals and contribute to health concerns. From sugary cereals that pack a deceptive punch to processed meats teeming with additives, we’ll explore the notorious culprits that nutritionists unanimously recommend avoiding. So, tighten your apron strings, grab a pen, and let’s arm ourselves with the knowledge needed to outsmart the supermarket aisles, one smart choice at a time. Let’s dive into the Dirty Thirty and discover how to kick these unhealthy contenders off your shopping list for good!


“Healthy” Sugar Laden Drinks

While it’s easy to assume that drinks labeled as “healthy” or “natural” are good for us, it’s essential to be aware of the potential health pitfalls associated with supposed sugary health drinks, such as juices and smoothies. While fruit juices may provide some vitamins and minerals, they are often stripped of their fiber and packed with concentrated sugars. This can lead to blood sugar spikes and contribute to weight gain and other health issues. Smoothies can also be deceiving. While they may contain fruits and vegetables, the addition of sweeteners, syrups, and high-calorie ingredients can quickly turn them into sugar bombs. Portion control is a problem as smoothies can be calorie-dense, leading to excess calorie intake if not consumed mindfully.




While pretzels are often perceived as a healthier snack option, it’s important to recognize that they may not be as nutritious as they seem. While they are typically lower in fat compared to other snacks like chips, pretzels are primarily made from refined white flour, lacking in essential nutrients and fiber. They tend to be high in sodium, which can contribute to increased blood pressure and other health concerns. As alternatives to pretzels, consider options that offer more nutritional value. Whole grain crackers, rice cakes, or air-popped popcorn provide fiber and a satisfying crunch. Nuts and seeds, like almonds or pumpkin seeds, are nutrient-dense alternatives that offer healthy fats and protein.

Snack Food and Wholesale Bakery

Granola Bars

While they are often marketed as a convenient and nutritious snack, most granola bars are loaded with added sugars, unhealthy fats, and artificial additives. These ingredients can contribute to weight gain, increased blood sugar levels, and a lack of important nutrients. Some granola bars may lack fiber and protein, leaving you unsatisfied and prone to cravings shortly after consuming them. To make healthier choices, opt for granola bars with minimal added sugars, whole grains, and a good balance of healthy fats and protein. Alternatively, consider making your own granola bars at home using wholesome ingredients like oats, nuts, seeds, and natural sweeteners.

Tastefully Gluten Free

Sweetened Oatmeal

Sweetened oatmeal, typically flavored with added sugars or artificial sweeteners, can undermine its nutritional value. These sugars contribute unnecessary calories and can lead to blood sugar spikes, followed by crashes and increased cravings throughout the day. Additionally, sweetened oatmeal may lack the fiber and protein that make oatmeal a nutritious option, leaving you feeling less satisfied and more likely to reach for additional snacks. Opting for unsweetened or minimally sweetened oatmeal allows you to control the amount of added sugars and allows the natural flavors of the ingredients to shine. Enhance your oatmeal with fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, or a drizzle of natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup to add flavor without compromising its nutritional benefits.

Organic Authority

Sugary Cereals

These breakfast options are notorious for their high added sugar content. They lack any of the essential nutrients necessary to kickstart our day. Consumption of sugary cereals can lead to rapid blood sugar spikes followed by crashes. This leaves us feeling fatigued and prone to subsequent hunger pangs. The inadequate fiber content in these cereals fails to provide the sustained energy and feelings of fullness that can be achieved through whole grain and fiber-rich alternatives. By choosing cereals with minimal added sugars and higher fiber content, such as whole grain or oat-based varieties, we can nourish our bodies with vital nutrients, support stable energy levels, and make strides towards our health goals.

Epic Water Filters

Water with Vitamins

Water marketed with added vitamins may seem like a smart choice for those seeking an extra nutrient boost, but it’s essential to understand the potential pitfalls of these products. In many cases, water marketed with added vitamins can be misleading. While the intention may be to enhance the nutritional value of water, the added vitamins are often in low quantities that have little impact on health. Some of these vitamin-enhanced waters may contain added sugars or artificial sweeteners to mask any bitter taste from the vitamins. These added sugars can contribute to excess calorie intake and potentially lead to weight gain or other health concerns.


Veggie Straws

These veggie sticks are often highly processed and lack the nutritional value of fresh vegetables. They are typically made with refined flours, which can lead to a rapid spike in blood sugar levels. Some brands may contain added sugars, unhealthy fats, artificial additives, and high levels of sodium to enhance their flavor. Consuming these veggie sticks regularly may contribute to weight gain, increased risk of chronic diseases, and an inadequate intake of essential nutrients. Instead, opt for whole, unprocessed vegetables as a snack. Raw carrot sticks, cucumber slices, or bell pepper strips provide the natural goodness of vegetables while offering fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Pair them with a healthy dip like hummus or Greek yogurt for added flavor and nutrients.

Daily Mail

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

When comparing Nutella to almond or peanut butter, it becomes evident that Nutella is a less healthy option. While Nutella is beloved for its rich, chocolate-hazelnut flavor, it contains high levels of added sugars and unhealthy fats. The main ingredient in Nutella is sugar, followed by palm oil, which is high in saturated fats. On the other hand, almond and peanut butter are typically made with just nuts and possibly a touch of salt, making them a more natural and nutrient-dense choice. Almond and peanut butter provide heart-healthy unsaturated fats, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals. They also contain dietary fiber, which promotes satiety and aids in digestion. When selecting a spread, opt for almond or peanut butter without added sugars or hydrogenated oils.


Gummy Fruit Snacks

Gummy fruit snacks may seem like a fun and convenient way to enjoy fruit flavors, but they are far from a healthy choice. Despite their association with fruit, these snacks are typically packed with added sugars, artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. While they may resemble real fruit, gummy fruit snacks lack the essential nutrients and fiber found in fresh fruits. The high sugar content in these snacks can contribute to weight gain, dental issues, and blood sugar imbalances. Additionally, the lack of fiber can lead to feelings of hunger and a less satisfying snacking experience.



While grocery store sushi may offer convenience and an appealing variety of options, it’s important to approach it with caution as it may not be as healthy as it appears. Grocery store sushi often contains processed ingredients, such as imitation crab, artificial additives, and high levels of sodium. The rice used in grocery store sushi is typically prepared with added sugars and vinegar. This increases the calorie and carbohydrate content. Unfortunately, the fish used in these sushi options may not be as fresh as what you would find in a dedicated sushi restaurant. This can compromise the flavor and quality of the sushi, as well as pose potential health risks.

Yankee Belle Cafe

Bran Muffins

Many store-bought bran muffins contain high levels of added sugars, unhealthy fats, and refined flours. The inclusion of bran, which provides dietary fiber, is overshadowed by the negative impact of other ingredients. Additionally, store-bought muffins often exceed recommended portion sizes, leading to excessive calorie consumption. Reading labels and selecting bran muffins with minimal added sugars, whole grain flours, and limited unhealthy fats is important. Alternatively, taking control by baking homemade bran muffins allows for healthier alternatives like whole wheat flour, natural sweeteners, and nutrient-rich ingredients such as nuts, seeds, or fresh fruits.

Recipe Garden

Sweetened Yogurts

Manufacturers often add significant quantities of sugar to enhance the taste and appeal of these yogurts. Consuming too much added sugar has been linked to various health issues. This includes weight gain, increased risk of type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Sweetened yogurts also tend to lack the nutritional benefits found in plain or unsweetened options. They may have lower protein content, fewer live active cultures, and less calcium. Opting for plain yogurt and adding your own natural sweeteners, such as fresh fruits or a drizzle of honey, allows you to control the sugar content while enjoying the health benefits of yogurt.

Consumer Lab

Protein Powders and Shakes

Many commercial protein drinks contain high levels of added sugars, artificial flavors, and preservatives. Some protein drinks may lack the essential nutrients and fiber found in whole foods. Relying solely on protein drinks as a source of nutrition can result in an imbalanced diet. You could be missing out on the benefits of a diverse range of nutrients. It is important to prioritize whole food sources of protein, such as lean meats, legumes, and dairy products, which provide a broader spectrum of nutrients alongside protein.

The Everymom

Gluten Free Snacks

Avoiding gluten is necessary for individuals with gluten-related disorders. However, assuming that a food is automatically healthier just because it is labeled as gluten-free would be a mistake. Many processed gluten-free snack foods and sweets actually contain comparable, if not higher, amounts of calories and added sugar compared to their gluten-containing counterparts. Moreover, research indicates that gluten-free snack foods and other gluten-free items generally have lower levels of protein, fiber, and certain essential vitamins and minerals. It is worth noting that these gluten-free alternatives are often more expensive as well.


Low Fat or Fat Free Foods

Removing fats from foods often results in a less satisfying eating experience, leading to potential overconsumption of other unhealthy ingredients. Many low fat or fat-free products compensate for the reduction in fat content by increasing the amount of added sugars, artificial additives, and processed ingredients. This can lead to an steep increase in calorie count and a negative impact on blood sugar levels. Also, it’s important to note that fats play an essential role in our body, aiding in nutrient absorption and providing satiety.


Vegetable Oils

To function optimally, your body requires a balance of both omega-6 fats and omega-3 fats, such as EPA and DHA. However, modern diets have a disproportionate ratio of about 20:1, significantly exceeding the body’s omega-6 fat needs . Imbalances in this ratio have been linked to systemic inflammation and an increased risk of disease. The typical Western diet tends to be high in omega-6 fats and deficient in omega-3s. Thus, it is advisable to limit consumption of omega-6-rich fats, such as soybean oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, and processed foods made with these oils. Alternatively, increasing intake of omega-3s is beneficial. Sources of omega-3s include flaxseed oil, fatty fish like salmon, and walnuts.


Diet Sodas

Regular consumption of diet soda, despite its lack of sugar and low calorie content, has been linked to an increased likelihood of developing certain health problems compared to non-consumers. For instance, it is associated with a higher risk of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms including elevated belly fat, blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood fat levels. Studies indicate that diet soda might contribute to these health issues by influencing brain responses to food, leading to an amplified craving for highly palatable and energy-dense sweets. There are also recent studies that suggest aspartame, the ingredient used to sweeten diet sodas, may also be linked to cancer risks.

Veg News

Plant Based Meat Products

Choosing a plant-centric diet and reducing meat consumption not only benefits your health but also contributes to environmental well-being. However, it’s important to be cautious of some vegan and plant-based meat replacement products that are loaded with ultra-processed ingredients, excessive salt, sugar, and other additives. Using these meat alternatives too frequently could lead to health issues. Instead, opt for homemade alternatives using whole-food ingredients like black beans, mushrooms, rice, and cashews to create delicious plant-based burgers.

Food Business News

Yogurt Covered Raisins and Pretzels

Most health food stores sell yogurt-covered snacks such as pretzels and raisins, often marketed as a healthier alternative to chocolate-covered snacks. However, nutritionally, they are quite similar. A 100-gram serving of yogurt-covered raisins contains 393 calories and 64 grams of total sugar, while the same serving of raisins covered in milk chocolate contains 390 calories and 62.2 grams of total sugar. It is important to be aware that the specific sugar and calorie content may vary depending on the brand.

American Society for Nutrition

Plant Based Milks

As more people transition to a plant-based diet, the popularity of plant milks has surged. While nut milk can serve as an excellent dairy alternative, particularly for those with milk intolerances, it is important to note that not all nut milks are as healthy as they may seem. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, most plant milks contain added sugar to enhance their taste. For instance, a 1-cup (240-mL) serving of original Almond Breeze almond milk contains 7 grams of added sugar, with cane sugar listed as the second ingredient. To regulate your added sugar intake, it is advisable to opt for unsweetened nut milks. By doing so, you can make a more mindful choice and enjoy the benefits of plant milk without unnecessary sugar additives.

Women’s Health

Dried Fruits

When fruits are dried, their natural sugars become concentrated, resulting in a higher sugar content compared to fresh fruits. This can lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar levels. Dried fruits often lack the water content and volume of fresh fruits. This can make it easier to consume large amounts in a single sitting, leading to excess calorie intake. Furthermore, some commercially available dried fruits may contain added sugars, artificial additives, and preservatives to enhance flavor and prolong shelf life. It is important to read labels and choose dried fruits without added sugars or opt for fresh fruits as a healthier alternative.

The Daily Meal

Multi Grain Breads

Some commercially available multi-grain bread contains refined flours and added sugars, which can diminish its health benefits. Although it may have different grains listed on the label, the actual proportion of these grains may be minimal compared to refined flours. Consequently, multi-grain bread may lack the fiber and essential nutrients found in whole grain bread. To ensure you are making a healthy choice, it’s important to read the ingredient list and choose bread that is made with 100% whole grains and without added sugars.

Cost Cuisine

Trail Mixes

Many popular trail mixes contain high levels of added sugars, unhealthy fats, and excessive salt. Some trail mixes are packed with calorie-dense ingredients like chocolate candies and sugared fruits. These high-calorie contents can lead to overconsumption, negating the potential benefits of a nutrient-dense snack. Moreover, the small, convenient packaging of trail mixes can make portion control challenging, leading to mindless snacking and potential weight gain. To make a healthier choice, consider making your own trail mix at home with ingredients like unsalted nuts, seeds, and dried fruits without added sugars.

The Simple Veganista

Veggie Dips and Spreads

Don’t assume that a chip dip with hints of green automatically counts as a serving of vegetables for the day. Spinach and artichoke dips, as well as cucumber spreads, might seem like the healthier choices on the cocktail platter, but they can be laden with saturated fats from ingredients like sour cream, cream cheese, and mayo, offering little to no additional nutrients. Hummus or other bean based dips are often a better choice, both calorically and nutritionally. Adding nutritional yeast can give dips that cheesy taste without any of the health consequences.

Supermarket News

Deli Meats

Deli meats, including turkey, roast beef, bologna, and salami, often contain excessive amounts of sodium, nitrates, saturated fat, and fillers. A better alternative is to opt for organic and/or humanely raised animal proteins, such as chicken, turkey breast, or eggs. Additionally, consider trying plant-based proteins like thinly sliced tofu or tempeh, as well as canned tuna or salmon. Enhance your sandwich with favorite vegetables and flavor it with hummus or cashew cheese. If you’re aiming to increase your vegetable intake at lunch, consider choosing a salad or a lettuce wrap instead.

Serious Eats


Nowadays, manufacturers produce pasta from a variety of ingredients, including gluten-free options derived from brown rice, quinoa, and chickpeas. When choosing pasta, prioritize those with a high protein and fiber content, seeking brands offering five grams of protein and seven grams of fiber per serving. For an extra vegetable boost, consider making veggie noodles using spaghetti squash and zucchini. Avoid sugary pasta sauces by preparing your own pesto and tomato sauces at home.


Canned Soups

Opening a can of soup can be the initial step towards compromising your health. Despite many soup brands boasting their suitability for weight-conscious individuals, they frequently contain excessive amounts of salt and sugar. For instance, a single cup of Campbell’s Harvest Tomato with Basil Soup contains a staggering 16 grams of sugar, along with 33 percent of the recommended daily allowance for sodium per cup. Moreover, research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism has linked the BPA, which is often found in can linings, to an elevated risk of obesity and insulin resistance.


Egg Substitutes

By consuming egg substitutes, you are neglecting a plethora of nutrients. Egg substitutes mainly consist of egg whites, resulting in a lack of the vitamins found in egg yolks, such as vitamin D. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has associated vitamin D with lower rates of obesity and reduced abdominal fat. In addition to missing out on the nutritional benefits of egg yolks, egg substitutes often contain artificial additives and preservatives. Some egg substitutes may have higher sodium content than whole eggs, contributing to potential health concerns related to excessive salt intake.


Skim Milk

Research published in Circulation suggests that full-fat dairy products are associated with lower rates of diabetes, contradicting the common perception that skim milk is healthier. Additionally, researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston found no link between full-fat dairy and heart disease. To optimize fat burning and promote overall health, consider replacing skim milk with the best-ever fat-burning foods in your diet.

Caja USA

Fruit Cocktails

Adding fruit to your diet is beneficial, provided you avoid soaking it in syrup. In addition to the BPA present in many fruit cocktail cans, a single cup of fruit cocktail in syrup can contain over 37 grams of sugar, surpassing the sugar content in an equivalent amount of soda. Store-bought fruit cocktails are also often unhealthy due to the addition of preservatives and artificial flavors. These cocktails may lack the natural freshness and nutritional benefits of freshly cut fruits, making them a less nutritious option for meeting your fruit intake goals. Fresh, whole fruits are a much healthier choice than canned fruit cocktails.