Costco Foods You Should Always Avoid, According to Nutritionists
We're already very familiar with what we should buy at Costco, but what about the no-nos? Some of them are obvious. If you're counting calories and watching your sugar, you definitely don't want to walk out the door with an oversize candy bar (unless you plan to properly portion it out over the next three years, in which case, good for you).
There are definitely some things tucked away on Costco's shelves, though, that are better off staying there rather than coming home with you, because they won't do you any favors on your healthy-eating journey. We spoke with two nutrition experts for their advice on what you should leave behind at Costco, and their answers just might surprise you.
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Now before you panic and wonder what on Earth we're talking about, just hear us out. Dr. Amy Lee, Head of Nutrition for Nucific, explained to us that the concern with these conventional bananas is the size. "If you actually compare one of these bananas to a normal-sized banana that you would find in a regular supermarket, you will realize it's almost twice as big." That raises the concern of how many calories are in the banana. Not all fruit is created equal!
Hot Dog and Soda
The Costco food court is cheap and delicious — and that's the problem. Dr. Lee highly advises against swinging by here while at the warehouse.
"We know that people love the idea of 'refilling' the sodas over and over again and that itself can make a negative impact on one's diet," she says. When you consider how much sugar is in that soda and what that can do to your body, you just might think twice. And the hot dog isn't a whole lot better.
We know. This one hurts a little. Ryan Andrews, RD, principal nutritionist and adviser for Precision Nutrition, warns against these budget-friendly chickens because of a recent report in The New York Times about how they're reportedly sourced. Andrews said Costco's chickens in particular are "raised in conditions that go against our collective standards of health."
Instead, something more along the lines of a free-range chicken fed a healthy diet would be preferable, because healthier birds produce better-quality meat, studies have shown.
For more on this, here's info on why Costco Sold Over 100 Million of This Grocery Staple Last Year.
Protein bars may be delicious, and though they are packed with protein, many of them are also packed with sugar. Andrews shared, "Some (but not all) of these bars are nothing more than a mix of sugars, oils, and fiber with a sprinkling of protein added for marketing purposes."
If you're on the hunt for a protein or nutrition bar at Costco, just make sure you read the labels carefully and look out for any of these extras that aren't very nutritional at all.
We're not totally sure how muffins earned a reputation as a healthy food. Yes, they can be made in a healthy way, but generally speaking, muffins are pretty loaded with sugar and carbs. What's worse is that some of Costco's muffins are so huge that they have extremely high amounts of those.
Dr. Lee says you should avoid the big muffins completely. "If you are not mindful about what is the right portion, you will likely eat one of those blueberry muffins in one sitting and assume that it is fine. But in reality, one of these giant muffins is about four to five portions!"
If you've already grabbed these muffins, portion them out properly in your kitchen so you're not eating too much at once. And here are The 15 Best Tips for a Healthy Breakfast, According to Dietitians.
Dr. Lee noted that the biggest problem with buying chips at Costco is the size of the bag they come in. Unless you're properly portioning them out, you're at risk of continuing to eat until you've eaten too many, maybe because chips are your go-to comfort snack. Andrews pointed out, however, that if you're looking for comforting food — and we all do this from time to time — that's totally okay.
"There's nothing wrong or unhealthy about eating something for the sole purpose of experiencing comfort and joy," he said. "Optimal nutrition isn't about attaining 100% dietary perfection." Just make sure you're eating those comfort foods, like the chips in Costco's giant bags, in a healthy-size portion.
This may feel obvious but it's worth pointing out. Costco's cookies are amazingly delicious, but they're also very much not healthy — obviously. Both Dr. Lee and Andrews pointed out their concerns with overall amounts of sugar and calories in Costco items like this.
Andrews highlighted many of the unhealthy things you might find in problematic foods, like salt, sugar, and refined grains, which you'll find in these particular cookies. "If someone is considering a new food product and it contains any or all of these as a main ingredient, it's probably not going to do much to support your health." So leave these cookies behind and instead make your own healthier cookies at home.
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