Most of us could stand to add a few more fruits and vegetables to our diet, but which ones we opt for are key. While no one ever blamed celery for their sluggish mood or weight gain, a number of popular produce varieties don’t offer the benefits you expect — or worse, can be dangerous if consumed in excess. Bearing these facts in mind is all the more important given recent evidence that, overall, produce has declining nutritional benefits. Here’s a look at some fruits and vegetables that are particularly overrated.
Kale: Easily one of the most hyped vegetables in recent history, kale can cause hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid if consumed on a daily basis.
Goji berries: This so-called superfood is rich in a chemical compound called dietary saponins that increases the potential for intestinal permeability (leaky gut).
Bananas: Calorie dense as well as high in sugar and carbohydrates, aside from a pre/post workout snack, these aren’t the best option, especially if you are diabetic.
Celery: One of the most prevalent food myths is that you burn more calories chewing celery than you do eating it. While celery is very low in calories, it’s made up mostly of water and therefore has very few nutritional benefits.
Sweet potatoes: High in calories, sugar and starch, opt for butternut squash instead.
Corn: If you have the choice, opt for peas instead as corn is one of the starchiest vegetables (especially sweet corn).
Cucumbers: Certainly very refreshing, but just like celery, cucumbers are made mostly of water, which makes them a poor choice when looking for vitamin and nutrient dense foods.
Iceberg lettuce: When making a salad, iceberg is pretty much the worst choice — almost all water, it’s devoid of practically any nutritional benefits. Opt for arugula, romaine, frisee or bib instead.
Spinach: One of the most widely available vegetables, this isn’t one you want to eat every day: excessive consumption may lead to kidney stones, issues with iron absorption and gastrointestinal difficulties.
Dried fruits: Calorie and sugar dense, dried fruit shouldn’t be considered that far off from candy — especially because many have added sugar. Further, because the dehydration process reduces the volume of each piece by removing so much water, they’re easy to overeat (one cup of grapes has about 104 calories, while a cup of raisins has over 434 calories).
Fruits and vegetables known to have high residual pesticide loads: See here for a list of the ones with the highest and the lowest. It’s especially important to stay away from the dirty dozen if you’re not buying organic produce.