10 colourful foods that aren't good for you

We often associate colourful foods with good health – but while that’s true of fruit and vegetables, it’s not always the case with other foods. Ana Blanco points out the pitfalls.

1. Vegetable crisps

Vegetable chips 

They might be made of vegetables like beetroot, carrot and parsnip, but these colourful crisps will still be fried, making them high fat and energy, as well as having plenty of salt added too. Look for other snacks that will add variety and nutrients to your diet like these lower-fat spiced chips.

If you wonder whether ‘popped’ crisps are a healthier option, read our Senior Dietitian’s verdict. 

2. Coloured cereals

Coloured cereal

Frankieleon / Via Flickr 

Having anything for breakfast can be better than nothing, but the kind of cereals that come in bright colours are often high in sugar and too much of this can contribute to weight gain. If you’re after quick and healthy options for breakfast, read these tips from our dietitian.

3. Sugar-sweetened fizzy drinks

Sugar-sweetened fizzy drinks  

Mike / Via Flickr

Cherryade, orangeade and lemonade might be named after fruit but don’t contain much fruit juice and the sugar-sweetened versions are high in sugar, providing us with empty calories. Pure unsweetened fruit juices are also high in sugar, but a more nutritious choice, so stick to a small glass (150ml) once a day to benefit from the vitamins without having too much sugars.

4. Ice pops and slush drinks

Slushies by Robert Occhialini Flickr

Robert Occhialini / Via Flickr

Ice pops and slush drinks are made by a mixture of sugar and a flavoured liquid. Even if they’re fruit flavoured, it’s unlikely that they will contain a significant amount of fruit juice, or any at all so they don’t offer much nutrition. For a healthier frozen treat, make your own ice lollies with fruit juice without added sugar. Or try our raspberry yoghurt ice or orange-scented apricot yoghurt ice.

5. Olives


Rene Schwietzke / Via Flickr

The problem with olives is that it’s difficult to stop at one. Although the olive oil they contain is a heart-healthy unsaturated fat, you still need to limit how many you eat to avoid eating too much salt.

6. Coloured pasta

Coloured pasta  

Via Flickr

This is probably better for you than the other items on this list, but you shouldn’t trough a double portion in the belief that it’s better for you than normal pasta, even when it’s coloured with vegetable extracts. If you‘re a pasta lover, you’d be better off with wholegrain pasta and add colour with a red tomato based sauce (like our Spanish-style pasta with fish or our sardine and cherry tomato pasta sauce) and a vibrant green salad on the side.

7. Ketchup


Steven Depolo / Via Flickr

It might be made from tomatoes, but one tablespoon of ketchup contains the equivalent of a tablespoon of sugar. That’s a good reason for choosing a reduced sugar version, and trying to limit the amount you have when you do eat it.

8. Sherbet lemons / rhubarb and custard sweets

Rhubarb and custard sweets

Stuart Webster / Via Flickr

They’re named after fruit and may taste (a bit) like fruit, but as you probably suspected, they don’t provide any of the benefits, and are typically high in sugar. Why not try a portion of real fruit instead? Or satisfy yourself with a more substantial treat, like our spiced apple bread and butter pudding or our lemon layer pudding.

9. Red wine


Resveratrol is a compound found in the skin of red grapes that has been linked to health benefits. Red wine only contains small amounts of resveratrol and this is also found in other foods which may be healthier to include in the diet. And, while there is some research, the evidence remains inconclusive as to how the benefits seen relate to drinking wine.

What we do know is that all alcoholic drinks can contribute to weight gain due to the high calorie content of alcohol. That doesn’t mean you need to quit wine completely, but it’s certainly not a habit you should take up to benefit your heart and, if you do drink, you should stay within the recommended limits of no more than 2-3 units a day for women and 3-4 for men.

Read more about alcohol and your heart.

10. Alcopops


These sweet, often fruit-flavoured, fizzy alcoholic drinks mix two high-calorie ingredients: sugar and alcohol. Any fruit content will be minimal or non-existent. If you enjoy alcopops, drink them sparingly.

More useful information