It’s not always apparent when foods we love have zero nutrition. These five favourites are filled with sugar, fat, and empty calories – and some may surprise you

Low-fat peanut butter

Peanut butter offers fats that are filling and heart healthy. But when that fat is removed or reduced, extra sugar and other filler ingredients are often added. When you’re shopping for peanut butter, read the ingredients label and pick one that contains only roasted peanuts.


Margarine has been considered a healthy alternative to butter, but many versions contain partially hydrogenated oil – an ingredient that contains trans fats, which are harmful. They can heighten your bad LDL cholesterol, decrease your beneficial HDL cholesterol, and heighten your risk of heart diseases. Instead of margarine, consider using a small amount of a heart-healthy oil, such as extra-virgin olive oil. But be mindful of cooking with oil at high temperatures.

Fruits canned in syrup

Fresh fruit is an important component of a healthy diet, but how it’s prepared matters. You might think that canned fruit is as healthy as fresh, but if the label shows that it’s canned in light syrup or heavy syrup, it means that the fruit has sugar added to it. You want to limit the added sugar that you eat. Fruit canned in juice or water is usually a safe option.

Coffee drinks

Some of the emptiest calories you can take in are found in sugary blended coffee drinks, like frappuccinos or caramel macchiatos. These drinks masquerade as a caffeine pick-me-up, but are more like a dessert. It’s okay to indulge occasionally but making these your go-to drink at the coffee shop is definitely not a good choice. Sugar-sweetened coffee drinks can have more sugar, fat, and calories than most meals!

Cotton candy

Cotton candy is 100 per cent sugar. A one-ounce serving averages 110 calories and 28 grams sugar. This melt-in-your-mouth treat may seem light but it isn’t, and the effect on your teeth isn’t pretty either. Added sugar make up no more than 10 percent of calories to reduce incidence of cavities and gum diseases. That’s equivalent to about 38 grams of sugar for someone eating 1,500 calories a day. Given this, a single ounce of cotton candy contributes 73 percent of the recommended daily limit.