There are no miracle cure-alls, silver bullets, or magic pills that will get you trim, fit and healthy, but after an exhaustive search and rigorous testing, The Sherpa has pinpointed a few natural health therapies that DO help and ferreted out the scams to may be shocked by what we've discovered.

The 7 Worst “Healthy Food” Imposters…


Posted Monday, May. 23rd, 2011

The 7 Worst Healthy Food Imposters

Everywhere you turn, someone is telling you that this is good for you or that will improve your health.  We have orange juice that supposedly lowers cholesterol, flavored waters that boost immune health, and even cookies that help you lose weight!

While most of us are already skeptical of these types of claims, there are foods out there that fly under the radar.  They masquerade as healthy, simply lying in wait in to sabotage your health.

Here are seven of the worst healthy food imposters:


#1: Farm-Raised Salmon

There’s no comparison between farm-raised salmon and the wild variety.  Farm-raised salmon have up to eight times the level of carcinogenic PCBs as wild salmon, and they’re lower in omega-3 fats.  Plus, these penned salmon are fed grain and fishmeal, not to mention a ton of antibiotics, and they don’t have nearly as high nutritional value as their wild relatives.

In addition, wild salmon get their red color from astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant that comes from their natural food source, krill.  Farmed salmon get their color artificially from a color wheel.


#2: Supermarket Cereals


With few exceptions, most supermarket cereals are fiber lightweights.  The overwhelming majority are loaded with sugar.  Most have a very high glycemic impact, meaning they raise blood sugar quickly, contributing to mood swings and energy dips.  Whole grains are better, but only marginally, and people who are sensitive to blood sugar fluctuations will still need to be careful.

The best cereals are old-fashioned oatmeal, and a few grocery store standouts, such as Fiber One and All-Bran.  Most of the others?  Not so good.  Look for those that pass the “5 and 5” rule: less than 5 grams of sugar, more than 5 grams of fiber.

#3: Bars


Whether you call them energy bars, protein bars, granola bars, or breakfast, most are simply chewy versions of candy bars.  They usually have very little fiber, lots of processed carbs, and a ton of sugar.

You’re better off “rolling your own” out of raw oats, chopped almonds, coconut flakes, raisins, and a dollop of raw organic honey.

#4: Frozen Yogurt


Frozen yogurt is a prime example of marketing triumphing over good sense.  The only thing frozen yogurt has in common with real yogurt is that they’re both white.

Real yogurt—one of the healthiest foods on earth—is loaded with live cultures that support your digestive health.  The live culture content of frozen yogurt is precisely zero.

What’s more, frozen yogurt is usually filled with chemicals and artificial sweeteners, which can cause cravings just like sugar.  You’re better off with real, creamy, organic ice cream.  Just don’t eat too much.

#5: Canola Oil


Sounds sacrilegious, but canola oil isn’t such a health bargain.  Conventional canola oil is processed with high-temperature, mechanical pressing.  It goes through caustic refining, bleaching, and de-gumming.

The high temperatures needed to extract the oil from the rapeseed plant make it’s highly touted omega-3’s rancid and foul smelling, requiring them to be deodorized, a process that can create trans fats.  Unless it’s cold-pressed and organic, stay away.

#6: Egg-White Omelets


While these aren’t exactly unhealthy, they are utterly unnecessary.  The whole concept of egg white omelets is left over from the 80’s obsession with low fat anything.  And when it comes to eggs, it’s a huge mistake.

The yolk contains the superstars of eye nutrition, lutein and xeazanthin, which need fat to be absorbed properly.  Egg yolks are also an important source phosphatidylcholine, an important nutrient for brain health.

And you can forget the fat issue.  Half the fat in the yolk isn’t even saturated to begin with and the saturated part is good for you!

#7: Apple Juice


Apples, good.  Apple juice?  Not so much.

One cup of apple juice has zero fiber, 117 calories, and 29 grams of carbs, 27 of which are sugar (and your typical serving is a lot more than a cup).  Sorry, but that’s not a health drink.  It’s sugar water with apple flavoring.

The implications of giving our kids 8 cups a day of this stuff is just now beginning to be understood.  An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but apple juice just may necessitate a few house calls in the future.

Stick With the Basics…

When it comes to selecting healthy foods, follow the rule of KISS and keep it seriously simple.  Choose whole foods, not short cuts.  That means less bars, juices, and cereals and more whole fruits, eggs, and oatmeal.

Also, up your label IQ.  Check for sugar, fiber, and ingredients.  If there are words you don’t know, move on.

Finally, when in doubt, go wild, pasture-raised, free-range, and organic.

Do you have a healthy food imposter that irks the heck out of you?  If so, let The Sherpa know in the comments section below!

Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS
Also known as “The Rogue Nutritionist,” Bowden is a board-certified nutritionist with a master’s degree in psychology; the best-selling author of twelve books including Unleash Your Thin, The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, Living L...[ read more ]

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    Very good information . Thank you.

  • I have for years, years, and years, said that there would some time come out the real facts that the way God made things is the best food.. eggs do not cause cholesterol problems. Eat foods as God made them,d not taken apart..Milk (raw uncooked whole)..butter much better than fake stuff.. coconut oil makes wonderful skin (keeps wrinkles down) etc..This is true.. God knows what he is doing! 

    • erikamatt

      Coconut oil is also good against Alzheimers. Did you see the video of the woman doctor nursing her husband back to normaly with two tablespoons of extra virgin coconut oil in his breakfast cereal?

    • Anonymous

      Why do you have to bring god into it? Why can’t you just say,”eat naturally”? If you extol your god for the creation of the egg, then it should be equally vilified for allowing its master creation to develop chemicals that are harmful.

    • Alice,

      Amen! Whole foods are always best.

      Naturally yours,

      The Sherpa

  • maryanne

    Thank you for the back to basic advise. Old fashion farming has its place in society.Let the cows roam the pasture, chickens run free and load our plates with lots of local grown vegetables.          Maryanne

    • Erika Matt

      The local should be organic. The farmers at the local farmer’s market use pesticides. They are not organic.

      • Gale Pooley

        Organic means bugs are included for free. Ha, Ha.

  • Jhnirl

    Shows that so called good foods are often not ?

  • Wapsecret_2000

    My doctor promotes eating whole, natural foods. His advice is to not eat anything with a bar code.

    • Kelley

      now they put stickers with bar codes on individual fruits, but I get what s/he means!

    • We LOVE your doctor! Great advice!

      Naturally yours,

      The Sherpa

  • Bobyallen

    You present this as THE TRUTH, half a dozen other “nutrition expert” will present exactlynthe opposite as “THE TRUTH”. A few years (week), another, opposite opinion becomes the truth. ALL “nutritional information” is constantly in a state of flux, and therefore false at any time.

    • Bobyallen,

      We agree. The key is to find someone who backs up their “opinion” with fact. You can then make your own decisions based on that. But question everything and everyone!

      Naturally yours,

      The Sherpa

  • Vintageman

    Just a side note about so-called organic eggs, I found that when I bought eggs from the farmer who comes to our area to sell meats, eggs, etc. he told me that his products were all healthy and organic. Later I was able to check on this and found that his sources for eggs, including his own, were supplementing the free range feed with chicken feed from their local farm supply stores. And that feed was normally a GMO product sponsored by Monsanto because the non-GMO feed was very expensive and hard to find. Not on my table. I now go directly to the farm myself and know what the chickens eat, and make sure they are, indeed, free range all the way. 
    Also about coconut oil…be sure it is not heated too much in production or it will not be as good. I use it for cooking, baking, suntan lotion, hair care, sores/cuts, etc. Your imagination is the limit. In addition it is really healthy.

    • Dppeterson

      If you can find them – buy Chino Valley Rancher organic eggs.  They NEVER use GMO feed and the chickens are free range and well taken care of.  You can go to the farm to visit without an appt. – they are in CA.  No I do not work for them.

    • Dppeterson

      If you can find them – buy Chino Valley Rancher organic eggs.  They NEVER use GMO feed and the chickens are free range and well taken care of.  You can go to the farm to visit without an appt. – they are in CA.  No I do not work for them.

    • Vintageman,

      You are right…we almost have to become health detectives nowadays. And we agree with the coconut oil! Good stuff!

      Naturally yours,

      The Sherpa

  • Vintageman

    Just a side note about so-called organic eggs, I found that when I bought eggs from the farmer who comes to our area to sell meats, eggs, etc. he told me that his products were all healthy and organic. Later I was able to check on this and found that his sources for eggs, including his own, were supplementing the free range feed with chicken feed from their local farm supply stores. And that feed was normally a GMO product sponsored by Monsanto because the non-GMO feed was very expensive and hard to find. Not on my table. I now go directly to the farm myself and know what the chickens eat, and make sure they are, indeed, free range all the way. 
    Also about coconut oil…be sure it is not heated too much in production or it will not be as good. I use it for cooking, baking, suntan lotion, hair care, sores/cuts, etc. Your imagination is the limit. In addition it is really healthy.

  • Lpk49

    i want to grow my veggies organic.  i use pots on a patio now.  i can control the soil and fertilizer, but i can’t control the air and rain.  i am now worried about any kind of pollution including acid rain and radioactivity.  what do i do?  how dangerous are the things i can’t control?

    • Unfortunately, we’ve created a rather “messy” world. Just try to control those things that you can actually, well, control. Like growing your own veggies…eating organic…choosing wild and free range. You’ll still be one step ahead.

      Naturally yours,

      The Sherpa

  • Inaoconnor

    Your reply stuns me. Any research disagreeing with this will either be3 terribly flawed or paid for by corporate America. 

  • Consolo21

    Where is the Government ‘Doctor’ in all of this.  Why isn’t he or she telling us about these things.  It’s such a high position, and you never hear a thing about these things.  You are right.  You can’t trust the Government.

    • Susanlarrabee

      The Govt. Doc is in the pocket of Monsanto!  Never trust what the Govt. states.  Politicians are too busy lining their pockets with money given to them by lobbyists….who were politicians in their former scummy lives.

    • No question. In fact, that was the topic of Jonny earlier article. Check it out!

      Naturally yours,

      The Sherpa

  • Meg

    All of these good foods are also delicious!  I am 87 and have eaten your suggested diet since the 1950s.  I am activ, ehealthy and happy and feel sure I’ll reach 100!

  • Hdpesp

    I try to follow all of the suggestions in this article.


  • whippetgal

    One item in our daily lives is ASPARTAME, the sugar substitute, which converts to formaldehyde and methanol in the body.  It will sicken, blind and kill you with the poison it contains.  You become addicted and cannot stop drinking diet sodas, using chewing gum, feeding it to your babies in baby food and ingesting it in hundreds of other foods.  The Japanese formula-owners keep the truth about this product in check and their lobbyists have blocked all attempts to take it off the market.  If you are consuming anything with aspartame in it, STOP NOW, or face weight-gain, tumors, cancers, ulcers, liver failure, depression, joint pain and many other illnesses.  I wish more people knew about this.  

    • tina

      #2 cereals
      this articles mentions a stand out cereal “Fiber One”
      It pays/saves your life to check labels
      Fiber One has ASPARTAME in it!

  • Judith

    Interesting stuff !

  • Lafgayl

    What the best alternative to Canola oil barring Olive Oil of course? How does soya Bean oil rate?

    • Susanlarrabee

      Thanks to Monsanto 95% of all soy is GMO’d.  Not a good thing.  

    • Lafgayl,

      In addition to olive oil, coconut oil is a great option! Check out our previous article on coconut oil!

      Naturally yours,

      The Sherpa

    • the chuckstser

      soybean oil is a very recent “discovery.”  some decades ago, agribiz had way too many soybeans around from growing it for cattle.  they foisted the oil on us back when most folks trusted their food sources, and because it’s very inexpensive.  now it’s used in every deep fryer, chinese rest. wok, etc. it has the highest known level of vitamin k, which causes blood to clot in our bodies, which is a horror show for anyone who ever had a blood clot, like me.  i’m not an expert, someone can relate other detrimental properties it has as well.

      • Brireward

        soybeans are one of the crops that is mostly GMO’s which are deadly.  Search Jeffery Smith and his experience in the FDA. Spilling the beans is another site he has.

  • Vita Herring, (Herring in Wine Sauce),  is a food imposter.  
    The frond label shouts “Omega – 3, An excellent Source.”
    It `is loaded with 9g sugar per 56g serving,  which may be HFCS.

  • Vita Herring in Wine Sauce is a Health Imposter.

    It contains 9 grams of sugar  per each 56g serving, possibly HFCS.

    • paizley

      Sugar totally outweighs any Omega 3s benefits

  • debra

    A company in Australia – “Be Natural” sell a range of cereals and snack bars. They tout how healthy they are with a low GI but the second ingredient after the five grains is raw sugar, followed by brown rice syrup, honey, barley malt extract and natural honey flavour. Go figure…..

  • Sunrays89

    Should we really not eat sugar. and how can one let go of it when it is a constant craving but easily binged on.

    • SunRays89,

      You may have a sugar addiction, based on your comment of “constant craving” and “let it go.” Try giving it up for one week…just be prepared for the withdrawal.

      Naturally yours,

      The Sherpa

    • Brireward

      Eat fruit for something sweet.  We did  when my son was diagnosed with low blood sugar and we enjoyed the fruit.  Bananas, plums (prunes)  and grapes(raisins)  tho’   cause pancreatic problems

  • whippetgal

    Did you all read the comment about ASPARTAME?  THAT will kill you.  A small amount of sugar will not.  I always dilute a sweet drink with water.  I use saccharin and so did my mother and my grandmother.  It is made from sodium (salt) and has no side-effects or aftertaste.  Read ALL LABELS.  If they are high in carbohydrates, then they are usually high in sugar too.    

    • Griffsmail

      try stevia as sweetner its a natural plant extract and very economical!!!

    • Whippetgal,

      Because with saccharin…it has it’s own bag of concerns. Perhaps we need to cover all the artificial sweeteners in a future article.

      Naturally yours,

      The Sherpa

      • whippetgal

        Sherpa, I have spent 10 years investigating and trying to put a stop to Aspartame in our foods.  It has left me nearly blind and with several other health problems.  At the same time, I have spoken to, written letters and done various chemical researches on SACCHARIN.  Forget the smear campaign that was launched some years back, when the pharmaceutical companies wanted to put Aspartame on the market!  That was all lies!  Saccharin in converted sodium (salt) and is absolutely harmless.  It returned to the supermarket and drug store shelves about seven years ago and there has never been a problem with Saccharin — in over 150 years!! 

        For your information, the artificial sweetener Splenda has been analyzed and found to be only ONE MOLECULE different from Aspartame, meaning that it is another hoax and absolutely as potent as Aspartame.  Most of the new “plant extract” sweeteners cause a great deal of indigestion (gas).  If you want to do coverage of artificial sweeteners in a future article, I hope you point up the incredible list of dangers to our health from Aspartame.  Give me Saccharin every time!


        • TinaD

          And you find “saccharin trees” where???  Simple bottom line:  if it didn’t grow or walk, it’s not natural and your body wasn’t designed to break it down.  …doesn’t mean we don’t like the taste or even crave these chemicals, but NONE of them are GOOD for us!

          • Steve

             Just use sugar, IN MODERATION.  I put about 1/8  tsp in my morning coffee.  That’s plenty.

      • Roblshack

        Now you’re talking!

    • Kdxracer

      Great question and reply.
      Is there a place to find daily recommendations for carbohydrate intake and other nutrional guidelines to follow.

    • Keep your eyes out for our article on aspartame in the next couple of weeks!

      Naturally yours,

      The Sherpa

  • Terry Lemmons

    What about grape juice?

    • Susanlarrabee

      ALL fruit juices are very high in sugar.  

  • rowboat

    I am extremely disappointed in what I feel is minimal research listed in this Canola Oil section. I will list several issues based on studies from an internet article by Mary G. Eng PhD, & Sally Fallon, titled “The Great Con-ola”. You decide whether you were given enough info. 1) definitely not healthy for the cardiovascular system 2) Fibrotic heart lesions 3) vitamin E deficiency 4) undesirable blood platelet changes 5) seems to retard growth 6) not allowed in infant formula by FDA. 

    • Rowboat,

      Thanks for your feedback. These were intended to be quick snapshots of unhealthy foods, not a detailed exploration of each. But an in-depth look at canola oil may be a good article for the future.

      Naturally yours,

      The Sherpa

      • Roblshack

        No kidding!

      • Brireward

        Where can we answers to our questions?  I’m new to the site.

        • Simply post your comment and/or question and we will respond.

          Naturally yours,

          The Sherpa

          • Kphilips27

            Hi, really enjoying your website! WEALTH OF INFO! What is “USDA organic from China?” The two simply don’t go together yet some foods are labeled that way.  Also, “Imagine” vegetable broth contains organic expeller-pressed canola oil??  Is that okay??? Thanks for your response. :)

  • i am overwhelmed with these facts about food , but i am yet to grasped what is best food for human nutrition . kindly give me in brief the things that are good for human consumption . thanks from Benedict.

    • Best bet is to eat whole foods, organic, unprocessed, wild/free range. Hard to go wrong with that criteria. The fewer ingredients, the better (i.e. one thing is best).

      Naturally yours,

      The Sherpa

  • Brireward

    I  thought about raising fish once- found out they are fed ground up fish from the ocean.  How about all  those PCB’s in the farm raised, ocean fed fish!!!??

  • Brireward

    I would like to know your opinion of  Maltitol?

    • Mselaineous51

       Nasty stuff – at least for me. Causes severe intestinal cramping, gas and bloating. Yeah, that’s what a good sugar substitute should do, right?

  • KATE

    It’s about time someone stands up and challenges the mainstream media about the unhealthiness of these touted “health” foods!  I have know about this for sometime and it angers me to see what the food industry keeps advertising as healthy for us and our kids.  It’s shameful and confusing to most consumers, including me.

  • Csroque

    I agree with you 10000000000%.

  • TinaD

    I am equally upset by the media ploys that misrepresent these “healthful” foods!  If we are told one more time that Cheerios will help our heart, I think I’ll SCREAM!!  =0)

  • Stephen

    Show me where I need to eat an egg because I cannot get it’s nutrients from a plant-based source and I will eat one.

    • Healthfulliving

      Vegetarian – wonderful! However, please check out David Wolfe (big raw foodist) and his podcast # 84 -interview with Dr.Dave Woynaroski on the Essential Nutrients and how everyone MUST consume Omega 3 EPA from capsules cleansed of chemicals and mercury. There is a huge imbalance in omega 6 and omega 3 in vegetarians. Plants are overwhelmingly omega 6’s and you can’t get enough omega 3 from even the BEST vegetarian diet. He explains why. Plants in the wild have a little more omega 3’s but not near enough to off-set the heavy omega 6 diet of the vegetarian.  Also check out Gabriel Cousens – very knowledgeable and a vegan doctor. He will tell you that you can’t get enough B 12 from any plant source not even spirulina – you must take a B 12 supplement. I admire these two  men because they are highly regarded in the vegetarian world  and willing to speak the truth. As far as I am concerned I would listen to what they had to say.

    • JAM

      People turn vegetarians for the wrong reasons, many plants mimic certain vitamins which in turn is not beneficial, there is nothing better than whole foods, and that means, fish, poultry, meat, eggs, milk, a well balanced meal is essential, and all this organic of course handled with white gloves to be safe and beneficial, once in a CAFOS environment red flags should be advised, even vegetables are more contaminated than anything else.

  • Brireward

    The apple juice I get is made from apple concentrate.  I wouldn’t  think that would be bad.
    Also someone wrote and  talked about fruit causing low blood sugar.  Son’s doc. said  not to eat bananas, plums(prunes) or grapes (raisins).  They activate  the pancreas, which of course  puts out too much insulin in the case of low blood sugar.Other fruits are ok.

    • All fruit juice is liquid sugar. Only exception is juice made by placing fruit in blender, so that you still get the fiber…and even that should only be consumed on occasion.

      Naturally yours,

      The Sherpa

      • Corissa

        What about a juicer?

        • Corissa,

          A juicer removes the pulp, which is the fiber, leaving you with the sugar water. Best to juice the entire fruit and drink that way.

          Naturally yours,

          The Sherpa

  • Vips Kirrage

    The problem I have is that there has been so many reports in the media that organic, free-range etc is just a s much a marketing ploy as the examples you gave above, so how the heck can a city living person ensure that she gets what it says on the label!? I wish we had some farms around here, so we could actually see for ourselves that the eggs are indeed free range, the beef is indeed grass fed and pasture raised…..etc
    So very difficult to know that what we feed ourselves and our families are organic and ‘safe’ to eat!

    • JAM

      Very simple an organic egg has a dark yellow yoke while the others are pale, and they can be stored at room temperature for a few days while the others will not, for an organic has this protection. JAM

  • Great information.  I still would not buy canola oil even if it were organic.  It’s difficult to conceive of an oil that has been denatured and then turned rancid even if it is organic!!  Keep up your great works!

  • Muchael Keen Sr.

    Great information! As it turns out I have had several serious allergic reactions to Rape Seed Oil in some Peanut Butter’s; usualy generic. My throat constricted and could hardly breath.
         For a spell I raised a dozen chickens who were free range. They ate verry little processed feed. They loved to chase the lawnmower to catch the crikets and grasshoppers flying out of the chute. They rotto tilled my garden and gave us better eggs than we could buy. During the winter they got Kale and greens Ice Cubes, thawed with oats.

  • Bilmar

    Excellent information as usual, thank you!  I have a question about a product called….”I cant believe it not butter”; what are your facts on this product, the good, the bad and the ugly? 

  • DorisT

    Hi, ordered the program. Most recipes are for ‘carnivores’. Need some suggestions for vegetarians. How about a cookbook for vegetarians. Thanks.

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