Five Fake Foods to Avoid

They may be cheaper or contain fewer calories, but the hidden carbs — and other unmentionables — in these products make them ones you should skip.

Seafood1. Imitation Seafood

While it does contain some real fish, these products contain a mix of fillers that almost always contain a significant amount of carbs. One imitation crab product contains 14 grams of carb in 1/2 cup. That amount of lump crabmeat contains only a trace of carbohydrate.

2. Processed Cheese Product

Also known as "American cheese," these cheese products melt so nicely and they generally do not contain added sugars, but it turns out that some of the mystifying ingredients in them — various forms of milk products and milk product concentrates — crank up the carbs so that they can contain up to three times as much carbohydrate. For example, an ounce of cheddar cheese contains a trace amount of carbohydrate but an ounce of a well known processed cheese product contains 3g in an ounce.

3. Processed Meats

Even the more expensive brands of hot dogs, sausages, and other processed meats often contain hidden carbs. Who would think to look for corn syrup in the ingredients list of a package of hot sausages or bratwurst? Always look at the label or, if dining out, ask your server (or hot dog cart man, as the case may be), because those carbs can add up. Plus, unless they're labeled nitrite-free, processed meats contain preservatives that are known to be carcinogenic (cancer causing), and may also raise the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

4. Whipped Topping

Your favorite whipped topping may contain some real cream or not, but it likely contains both hydrogentated vegetable oil (trans fat) and corn syrup, both of which are high on the list of things to avoid, whether you have diabetes or not.

5. Non-Dairy Creamers

Almost across the board, these smooth and tasty concoctions are made from hydrogenated oil (trans fat) and sugar — usually in the form of corn syrup or corn syrup solids. Again, use a tiny bit and it won't be enough to sabotage your day. But if you're an avid user, the carbs and the bad fats will add up.

Adapted in part from Dana Carpender's Hold the Toast blog post "5 Foods Where Real is Way Better Than Fake."

Reviewed by Susan Weiner, RD, MS, CDE, CDN. 4/11

Last Modified Date: March 04, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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