10 “Vegetables” You Shouldn’t Be Eating

Although here at Mark’s Daily Apple we exhaustively advocate vegetables as a dietary staple, it turns out there are some instances when vegetables aren’t really all that healthy.

Ok, ok, that’s really not true. Just about every vegetable has a redeeming quality or two, but sometimes some vegetables are forced – usually by the masterminds behind food marketing – to masquerade as something healthy when really they’re nothing more than an unhealthy food with “vegetable” tacked on in the title.

Confused? Read on to learn which “vegetables” you should be avoiding:

Veggie Chips:
Love potato chips but know they aren’t good for you? Common sense dictates that vegetable chips – which the labels claim are made from real vegetables – would be a sensible alternative, right? Wrong. The first ingredients on most “veggie” chip labels are potatoes and corn, which, to be honest, aren’t that much different from regular run-of-the-mill chips. But those pretty colors, the ones that show that the chip is from a tomato, a bell pepper, heck, even a carrot!? Sadly they’re nothing more than a vegetable extract, or worse, a chemically-manufactured colorant. Need further proof these aren’t the chips for you? Most veggie chip varieties are cooked in canola oil, a rapeseed derivative that is thought to be toxic to humans and animals (appetizing, huh?)

Vegetable Tempura:
Realistically, any vegetable that’s taken a dip in a deep fat fryer really shouldn’t be considered healthy fare, but for tempura, the odds are stacked even less in the veggies favor. Although touted as one of the lighter types of batter, most “authentic” tempura recipes call for liberal use of cornstarch and heaps of sugar. Our tip? Stick to the stir fry!

Vegetable Sushi:
In recent years, sushi has risen to fame as the healthy meal of the celebrity set, and while we know to stay away from some lower grade sushi (like the supermarket sushi that boasts sugar-laden imitation fish), the reality is even simple vegetable sushi can be unhealthy. The culprit? The rice, which in sushi is mixed with rice vinegar and plenty of sugar. If you must do the sushi samba, ask for brown rice or balance out the meal with plenty of steamed veggies, such as hijiki (cooked seaweed) or oshitashi (boiled spinach with soy sauce).

Tomato Ketchup:
Tomatoes? Check. Vinegar? Check. High fructose corn syrup? Definitely! In fact, ketchup contains so much sugar (typically holding the second or third spot on the ingredients list) it might as well be re-branded tomato syrup (yum!) Instead, opt for salsa, malt vinegar, spices or learn to go without!

Spinach Dip:
Think the chips are the only bad thing going on in a spinach dip? Turns out the dip itself isn’t all that good for you either. Yes, it does contain healthy spinach (and sometimes artichokes too!), but it’s also chock-full of heavy cream, mayo and cream cheese, and quite often topped with bread crumbs or croutons. Why use the ingredient that is usually featured least prominently to name the dip? It would be like calling “carrot cake” carrot cake.

Canned Vegetable Soup:
It’s easy to think that the food manufacturers are doing you a favor by preparing a delicious, hearty – and frequently low-calorie – vegetable soup, but the reality is there are a multitude of evils hidden in that can! High sodium content aside, many of these soups also contain honey, sugar and other sweeteners – whether real or artificial – that can amount to as much as 15g of sugar per half-cup serving!

Grocery Aisle Vinaigrette Dressings:
Ok, ok, so it’s technically not a vegetable dish, but for many of us, vinaigrette is synonymous with salads, grilled veggies and a multitude of other seemingly healthy offerings. Although still a healthier option than creamier salad toppers, store-bought vinaigrettes are frequently cut with honey or corn syrup to make them less tangy. Our advice? Pick up a good balsamic vinegar and an even better olive oil and they’ll be no need to add in any extras!

Vegetable Juice:
Let’s face it: Sometimes meeting your recommended daily vegetable quota can be a little taxing (both in terms of finding palatable vegetables and financing them too!) Enter vegetable juice, which promises to deliver up to two servings of vegetables in just a few gulps. However, a quick glance at the label of one of these pre-packaged beauties reveals that they are not only loaded with sugar (usually as a result of fruit-based sweeteners) but are also devoid of almost all fiber. The reason? Juicing, whether commercial or otherwise, can strip vegetables of their heart-healthy fiber, leaving you with nothing more than a fancy vitamin shot!

Carrot Cake:
Despite the fact that carrot cake has the word carrot in its name there still exists the nagging fact that the other word is cake. Enough said.

We’ve told you countless times but we’ll tell you again. CORN IS NOT A VEGETABLE IT’S A GRAIN!! Although considered a great source of vitamins B1 (thiamin) and B5 (pantothenic acid), folate, vitamin C, phosphorous and manganese, just one medium ear of corn can pack as much as 15 grams of sugar! Our advice? Treat this GRAIN like any other GRAIN in your diet and bump it to the bottom of your shopping list!

The Untrained Eye Flickr Photo (CC)

Further Reading:

Top 10 Vegetables for the Winter Season

LifeHacker: How to Chop Veggies Like a Pro

Burning the Scale: Is Healthy Food Too Expensive?

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