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Don't Grab These 20 Unhealthy Items On Your Next Grocery Run

Surprisingly, many popular grocery foods are unhealthier than you think. Let's see the top items you should skip, and what to really look for instead.

1. Macaroni And Cheese

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Store-bought mac and cheese is quick and easy to make, but it's pretty much loaded with fat and salt. Plus, The New York Times revealed that this product also contains phthalates that might lead to learning and behavior problems in children. A homemade version could be far more healthy.

2. Frozen Pizzas

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Most frozen pizzas are not as healthy as you think. For instance, one Red Baron Classic Crust Pepperoni Frozen Pizza contains 1,520 calories (50-60% of the Reference Daily Intake). It might be a better idea for you to either order a pizza or make one yourself.

3. White Bread

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Packaged white bread usually contains plenty of processed flour and additives, and according to Medical News Today, eating too much of it can lead to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Go with some sprouted grain bread for a change, which has more nutritional value.

4. Pop Tarts

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This tempting breakfast option is high in calories but low in nutrients. For example, two Frosted Strawberry ones alone contain 400 calories, a mere 4 grams of protein, and less than 2 grams of fiber. Maybe you can try having some oats instead to start off your day.

5. Nutella

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Nutella might be a staple in your pantry, but it's in fact 58% sugar and 32% fat, according to The Guardian. Try swapping it for some fruit jam, a healthier counterpart with less sugar and more nutrients.

6. Spam

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Think twice before you add this canned pork to your cart. Research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests that processed meat can increase the risk of colorectal and stomach cancer. It'll be much better for you if you opt for some natural alternatives such as fish and beef.

7. Veggie Sticks

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This planted-based product often labels itself as low-fat, but Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) says otherwise. Its recent study shows that the snack isn't really that different in fat and sugar content compared with regular potato chips. Plus, it surpases the FNS's sodium limit for healthy snacks.

8. Pretzels

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Most traditional ready-made pretzels offer few nutrients and have too much sodium, which can lead to a greater risk of high blood pressure, says the NIH. If you still have a craving for this snack, go for some unsalted or whole wheat ones instead.

9. Chicken Nuggets

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Sadly, frozen chicken nuggets aren't such a good choice because they're loaded with fat and unnecessary fillers. The Wall Street Journal also discovered that 50-60% of their calories come from fat. Try breading some chicken breast strips and frying them on a pan yourself.

10. Diet Sodas

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Free of sugar and calories, diet sodas do sound pretty healthy. But according to Medical News Today, drinking too much of them can increase the risk of diabetes and obesity. Some natural sparkling water might be a healthier choice.

11. Cup Noodles

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Instant noodles are convenient and tasty, but the average amount of sodium in each cup typically exceeds half of the recommended daily intake, says the American Heart Association. Try adding homemade broth and veggies into the raw noodles to make them less salty and more nutritious.

12. Gatorade

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Sports drinks like Gatorade aren't for everyone. They're packed with sugar and sodium, which might be hard to balance if you don't do enough exercise. Plus, their artificial dyes can lead to hyperactivity in children, according to the NIH. Instead you can just drink water and obtain electrolytes from fruit.

13. Fruit Roll-Ups

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Surprisingly, the fruit-flavored strips have little fruit in them. They're basically sweet candy with artificial coloring and added sugars. One small strawberry-flavored roll alone has approximately 7 grams of sugar. You'd be better off having regular fruit instead.

14. Margarine

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Margarine contains a high percentage of trans fat, which may increase the risk of heart disease, says the NIH. Try substituting it with trans-fat-free olive oil or vegetable oil spread.

15. Lunchables

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This kids' favorite features highly-processed cheese and saturated fats but has barely any veggie or fiber. Even Geoffrey Bible, former C.E.O. of Philip Morris (prior owner of Lunchables) joked that "the most healthy item in it is the napkin." A balanced homemade meal is recommended.

16. Crackers

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High in sodium and refined flour, crackers don't make a great afternoon snack. Gillian Culbertson, certified diabetes educator at the Cleveland Clinic also points out that they don't stave off hunger that well. Some carrot or cucumber slices may be a better option.

17. Granola Bars

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You probably think granola bars are a healthy snack, but the NIH says that they're actually loaded with added sugars and artificial sweeteners, which are likely to mess with your blood sugar levels and digestive system. Plain oats topped with fresh berries are a healthier alternative.

18. Gummy Bears

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Chewy and flavorful as they are, gummy bears are filled with artificial ingredients such as added sugars and food coloring. Consuming too many of them might lead to vomiting, constipation, and headaches. Try swapping them for some nutrient-rich fruit, which is just as delish.

19. Cheetos

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It's easy to eat a lot of puffy Cheetos in one sitting, but you should know that they offer few nutrients and have lots of artificial ingredients. The Flammin' Hot ones can even result in stomach irritation and inflammation. Some natural cheese might be a healthier choice.

20. Hot Dogs

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Hot dogs at supermarkets are basically processed meats. A BBC report reveals that they might also contain too many nitrates, which can increase the risk of cancer and heart disease. Chicken or turkey sausages on a hot dog bun are a better alternative.

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