Food & Nutrition

15 Ingredients Nutritionists Never Cook With

There are some foods that the pros say are off limits. These are 15 foods nutritionists say they won’t eat and—what to choose instead.

Artificial sugar

SugarMax Lashcheuski/Shutterstock

If white sugar is off limits, does that mean artificial sweeteners are better? Not so much, says Ashley Reaver, MS, RD, CSSD. “Whether it is in my own pantry or buying processed food from the grocery store, I always avoid artificial sweeteners,” she says. “Research links them to increased sugar intake and disruption of the microbiome. They also can negatively impact the brain-gut connection.” Reaver says she’ll use real maple syrup in recipes, or add fruit or cinnamon to foods boost the perceived sweetness of dishes. Nutritionists love to share their tips and tricks, including the healthy diet plan they use to lose weight.


Cheese butter or margarine baking ingredient backgroundLove the wind/Shutterstock

When this oil-based butter substitute became popular in the mid-20th century, it seemed like an answer to nutritional prayers. These products had less saturated fat than butter, so doctors encouraged their patients to make the swap. Now, margarine has a bit of a shadow cast on it because some brands contain trans fats, artificial fats created when liquid fats are turned into solids. “Just use real butter,” Reaver says. “There is no need to continue using this artificial butter.” If you don’t want to use regular butter, Reaver says, try plant-based spread alternatives—coconut or avocado, for example.

White flour

flourkomkrit Preechachanwate/Shutterstock

Thanks to the popularity of alternative flours, you may not need this pantry staple any longer. “I keep almond flour, ground flaxseed, oat flour, and buckwheat flour in stock for waffles, pancakes, cookies, muffins, and breads,” says Monica Moreno, MS, RDN. These flour alternatives, Moreno says, are higher in fiber and have more micronutrients than the bleached all-purpose alternative. Healthy-eating secrets from nutritionists can help you make every meal healthier and better for you.

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