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21 "Healthy" Barbecue Foods That Are Actually Terrible For You


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It’s summer and you know what that means. It’s time to bust out the grills and start cooking some delicious BBQ. Everything from glazed burgers to grilled chicken is game. But now more than ever, choosing which foods and when to plan your next BBQ should be thought out carefully. What may seem like a healthy option might actually be terrible for you. If you think you’re making healthy choices at all those family barbecues, check this list to make sure.

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Seltzer Drinks

Seltzer drinks have been popular for the last two years and often promoted as low in calorie and alcohol content. While this may be true, the actual calorie count inside a canned seltzer drink may contain little to no nutritional value and the low alcohol percentage may lead to heavy drinking without notice.

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Fried Chicken

No one can deny how delicious fried chicken is. What it packs in deliciousness, it also packs in calories. One fried chicken thigh has about 162 calories. If we’re honest with ourselves, we know we eat more than one thigh accompanied by another calorie-packed, but delicious side.

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Ice Cream

Another comfort food that pains us to list is ice cream. One tub of ice cream can contain up to 360 calories with more than 20 grams of fat. Moderation is key here, even if it hurts you.

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Pie

Pies may be nutritional for the soul, but it does come with a real-world consequence. Too much of the right type of pie may have almost 23 grams of fat. We’re looking at you pecan pie.

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Baked Beans

One cup of baked beans has almost 400 calories. That alone should be a deterrent.

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Steak

Fatty cuts, like rib-eye or T-bone, can pack almost 40 grams of fat. If you’re really craving steak, opt for a sirloin, which has less than half that.

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Coleslaw

How you prepare this shredded veggie dish is always a source of contention, but here’s an argument for tossing your slaw in vinegar rather than mayo: A mayonnaise-based dressing will up the fat content.

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Potato Salad

One cup of homemade potato salad can have more than 20 grams of fat. The silent killer? That mayonnaise-based dressing. You’re not doing yourself any favors by adding crumbled bits of bacon, either.

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Ribs

Neither kind of ribs — spareribs or baby back ribs — fall into the USDA’s guidelines for lean meat. When slathered with barbecue sauce, they’re even worse for you. Opt for a dry rub if you absolutely can’t go the summer without a rack.

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Corn on the Cob

It’s not the vegetable itself that’s fattening. One ear of corn has less than eight grams. But when you rub it down with butter, and top it with creamy dressings, you send the fat content into the danger zone.

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Salad

This is when it’s alright to judge a book by its cover. If the salad is dressed with oil and vinegar, you’re in the clear. But any creamy dressings, like ranch or blue cheese, can have close to 15 grams of fat in just two tablespoons.

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Dips

Anything that’s made with ranch, cream cheese, or mayonnaise (and all the good ones are) will cancel out all those hours you’ve been clocking at the gym.

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Chips

Surprise! The ones being served at a barbecue are likely not baked or gluten-free or healthy in any way shape or form.

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Condiments

Most ketchups, in particular, have tons of added sugar, but that’s not to say you should steer clear of all things that make your hamburger extra delicious. There are plenty of sugar-free options (and mustard is generally chiller with the sweeteners).

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(Specifically) BBQ Sauce

Almost all of it has sugar. So much sugar!

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Pasta Salad

Again, this isn’t likely one that’ll surprise you, but mayo + pasta + everything else = not an ideal side dish.

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Buns

Sure, you could request a gluten-free option, but you could also eat half the bun and go heavy on the meat parts of your meal. In fact, go all in on the meat — screw the bun.

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Sausage Links

It is so delicious because it is filled with fat and salt. A way to break it all up is to cut the links into pieces and intersperse them on an otherwise-veggie-filled kebab.

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Pulled Pork

Pork itself isn’t bad for you: it’s a lean, protein-packed meat. But the addition of barbecue sauce and the fact that, in its pulled version, it typically comes in huge piles makes it a less than ideal choice.

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Fruit Salad

More sugar. We know. We know.

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