Spring has sprung and many of our favorite brands have released new and limited-time products fit for the season. If you’re looking for the perfect picnic treat or simply excited for the bloom of vernal offers headed your way, be sure to read the label because many new releases are less than savory for our health.
After a long winter, the shelves are stocked and new items have come out of hibernation. Here’s what to grab and what to pass up at the grocery store according to our very own Eat This, Not That! Medical Expert Board members Lisa Young, PhD, RDN the author of Finally Full, Finally Slimnutritionist in private practice, and adjunct professor of nutrition at NYU and Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN.
RELATED: 6 Things You’ll See at Costco This Year
Per 2 tbsp (30g): 160 calories, 9 g fat, 75 mg sodium, 18 g carbs, 18 g sugar, 2 g protein
It’s no surprise that a creamy cinnamon spread styled from a surgery sweet cereal isn’t topping the charts for our health picks. Made to “deliver the epic taste of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal with notes of brown sugar and gram flavor,” this spread can be used to complement sandwiches, snacks, or in baking.
Made with only brown sugar, canola oil, skim milk, palm oil, cinnamon, soy lecithin, along with natural flavors, this spread has surprisingly little to offer, according to our experts. “This is pure sugar and fat,” Young says. “I’d pass on it or stick with a 1 tbsp. serving size.”
If opting for a dessert fix, try a tablespoon spread on apples. Be careful, however, a little bit goes a long way.
per can: 93 calories, 5.8 g carbs, 5 g sugar, 5% alcohol
While alcohol is always best consumed moderately when considering one’s health, our experts agree that this Yes Way Rose Spritz Blueberry and Lavender drink looks better than most of its competitors.
With a low sugar count for a spritzer and a great flavor combination, this drink could be managed with a healthy diet if consumed responsibly. Shapiro notes to remember that the “recommendation is one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.” Any more than that and this beverage is no longer a good choice for your health.
Per 2 cups: 150 calories, 12 g fat (5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 85 mg sodium, 14 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 3 g protein
While still considered a “treat,” these Skinny Dipped Peanut Butter Cups are great for those looking to get their peanut butter fix, without going overboard, according to Young. The 3 grams of protein and 1 gram of fiber help balance the macronutrients and it has, “less added sugar, total sugar, and carbohydrates than competitor brands like Reese’s,” said Shapiro.
For many dieters, being too restrictive runs counter to long-term success because they end up binging on foods that were “off limits.” With these Skinny Dipped Peanut Butter Cups, those looking to count calories or make better choices can enjoy some of their favorite “bad” foods without completely giving up. Don’t eat the whole bag in one sitting, though!
Per ¼ cup: 150 calories, 8 g fat (.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 15 mg sodium, 15 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 5 g protein
If you’re looking for a snack that doesn’t ruin your diet, the Pink Himalayan Salt Seapoint Farms Mighty Lil’ Crunchy Corn is a great option! According to our experts, this healthier choice snack packs in a lot of fiber for a quick grab-and-go option.
Shapiro says that a good trick to deciding on a snack is reading the label to see the list of ingredients. With only three in the Mighty Lil’ Crunchy Corn, it’s more likely to be a good bet combined with 5 grams of plant protein and fiber-filled to keep you satiated.
Our vote is “yes!” to these Mighty Lil’ Crunchy Corn snacks, which are a good choice “compared to simple carb snacks like pretzels and goldfish,” Shapiro says.
Per 28 poppers: 130 calories, 6 g fat (.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 190 mg sodium, 16 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 3 g protein
Whether the Lesservil Sun Poppers Vegan Sour Cream + Onion is actually a lesser evil than your typical snack is up for debate. Young says the vegan treat has too many unhealthy ingredients and encourages snackers to skip it. “I’d pass on this one unless you love the flavor. It contains no fiber, contains tapioca starch, and is still considered an ultra-processed food,” she recommends.
Shapiro, however, thinks that a few of the ingredients are worth the substitution for standard chips. These sun poppers include avocado oil, which she says is a “great inflammatory,” as well as cassava flour, which is a “wonderful source of gluten free carbohydrates.” Shapiro does warn that while 1 gram of fiber and 3 grams of protein isn’t ideal, it’s “better than nothing for a salty snack!”
Per 1 cup: 140 calories, 7 g fat (.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 210 mg sodium, 14 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 13 g protein
Magic Spoon bills itself as a healthy cereal alternative to sugary brand names for adults. Their new Honey Nut Cereal alternative to Cheerios is better than the original but still not the best breakfast choice, according to our experts.
Young says the brand may not be suitable for certain populations that are prone to GI upset or those avoiding dairy (whey is the first ingredient). The synthetic fiber in allulose/monk fruit that is a main ingredient substitute for sugar in the cereal needs to be taken into account for buyers as well. While the ingredients may be an issue for some, however, it does provide a breakfast with a whopping 13 grams of protein and is lower in fat than traditional cereals.
While the protein ratio may be high, Shapiro’s concern lies with the lack of fiber. “While this is rich in protein (from milk protein), this cereal would not be my first choice as it contains virtually no fiber thanks to the tapioca starch,” she said.
Per 1 patty: 250 calories, 17 g fat (6 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 390 mg sodium, 5 g carbs, 1 g fiber, <1 g sugar, 21 g protein
For those sustaining from meat, there have been many meatless products released but not all are created equal on the health front. For many of these products, the focus is on tasting similar to meat rather than being healthier than it.
Fresh Brand’s Plant-Based Patties are both a hit and miss with our experts, who have cited that the patties are high in fat. Although they may be a good alternative for vegans or vegetarians who are looking to increase their protein intake, Shapiro states that there is little else to support it.
“These patties contain pea protein which is a good protein source,” Shapiro says. “However, thanks to the coconut, it contains saturated fat and virtually no fiber.”
Per 4 meatballs: 200 calories, 13 g fat (5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 550 mg sodium, 4 g carbs, 1 g fiber, <1 g sugar, 17 g protein
Similar to the Fresh Brand’s patties, these meatballs may be a good substitute for meat-free eaters looking to indulge in something similar tasting without consuming animal products.
Shapiro says the meat alternative meatballs have a great source of pea protein, which is a good way to get protein outside of meat. With 17 grams of protein per serving, it’s also packed with it! However, just like Fresh Brand’s Plant-Based Patties, these Italian meatballs contain a large serving of fat, “likely due to the inclusion of sunflower and coconut oil,” so those looking for a fix for their meat cravings shouldn’t make these substitutions part of their regular diet.
Per 1 cup: 60 calories, 2.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 140 mg sodium, 8 g carbs, <1 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 1 g protein
For many of us that steer clear of dairy products, almond milk has been a lifesaver. It’s important to remember, however, that not all milk substitutions are created equal or are healthier than the products they are mimicking. Fresh Brand’s new Original Almond Milk has too few good elements to compete with the rest of the varieties of almond milk, according to our experts.
Shapiro states that while the brand does a good job of including vitamin D fortification as a way to strengthen bones in non-dairy milks, she isn’t a fan of the gums and binders in the product which can cause GI distress as well as the excessive amount of sugar.
Young believes there are other, better, brands of almond milk and this version qualifies as a definite “skip.” With sugar being the second ingredient on the package, it’s not either healthy or a good alternative to milk.
Per 1 cup: 90 calories, 2 g fat (50 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 500 mg sodium, 8 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 10 g protein
This Beyond Meat Jerky Original is not a snack worth snacking on, according to our expert Shapiro. With loads of extra sodium (500 mg for only a 90-calorie snack), this Beyond snack substitute is not for the healthy-minded.
In addition to being saturated in extra sodium, Beyond Meat Jerky Original is highly processed, something you’ll want to steer clear of in the grocery store aisles. While Shapiro did mention that the main ingredient—mung bean—is actually a great source of plant-based protein (at 10 grams), the sodium and laundry list of ingredients in this product is not worth the trade-off.
While some of these items are ones to skip, there are some other products to steer clear of during your next shopping trip. These Popular Grocery Items Contain Harmful Chemicals in Their Packaging, New Report Finds.