London: If you are wondering why your ‘healthy’ diet of smoothies and brown bread with honey is failing to reduce your waistline, wonder no longer.
These staples of wholesome eating are, in fact, more likely to make you fatter than fitter.
They are on a list compiled by diet experts at Tesco highlighting options considered healthy but which might be pitfalls for those trying to lose weight.
The list also includes olive oil, juice, chicken, granola, dried fruit and nut mixes, and low-fat biscuits.
Catherine Matthews, a nutritionist with the supermarket, said: ‘You may think a fruit or veggie smoothie is packed with vitamins and minerals, but it’s also laden with sugar. Some contain as much sugar as fizzy drinks.’
For example, Tesco’s Finest Mango Fair Trade Smoothie appears to be a healthy combination of pineapple juice, banana puree and mango.
However, it also has 15.7g of sugar per 100ml, which is almost 50 per cent more than the 10.6g in 100ml of Coke.
Trendy chefs have long encouraged us to use olive oil liberally, splashing it over everything from salads to pasta. But Miss Matthews pointed out that this vital component of the Mediterranean diet, considered good for the heart, remains an oil, weighing in at 50 calories a teaspoon.
The nutritionist said that while honey was natural, it was still just sugar, and warned that drinking fruit juice is ‘the fastest way to gain weight’.
Miss Matthews said most people took less than a minute to drink a 300ml glass of juice with 150 calories - more than the 139 calories in a 330ml can of Coke.
She also singled out low-fat yoghurt, biscuits and other treats, saying they often have more calories than the standard version because manufacturers pack them with sugar to make up for the loss of flavour when fat is removed.
But even more surprising is the inclusion of chicken, which is usually seen as a healthy alternative to red meat.
The way it is cooked is crucial. Leaving the skin on and frying it trebles the calorie count in a chicken breast from 100 to 300.
The British Dietetic Association has led the fight against juice, warning that making it removes some of the nutrients that would be found in a whole fruit or vegetable.
In a recent study, the association also said that ‘if fruit juice is sipped over a long period of time, the juice, which is quite acidic, can damage dental enamel’.
The information on ‘unhealthy’ health foods was sent to thousands of people signed up to the Tesco Diets website.
Miss Matthews said those who want to lose weight should eat a high-protein breakfast such as eggs, as this tends to make you feel fuller for longer.
She also recommended a diet containing plenty of fruit and vegetables and suggested people carry around a bottle of water to sip through the day.