Connect with us


Odunayo Abdulai: These 8 Foods Are “Healthy” but Are Surprisingly Highly Calorific

Many people believe that once a food is healthy, it’s automatically zero-calorie or low calories. This is absolutely false. This belief has resulted in many consuming too much of a good thing, resulting in them consuming way too many calories.



To be honest, I’m glad eating healthy is now a thing. Beyond simply trying to keep up with trends, it was something that needed to happen, and I’m glad we’ve woken up. Not only is the general public now more aware of their lifestyle conditions, it’s the case for much younger people now, too. I now have diabetic clients who are in their 20s. So, no, you are not too young.

That said, there has been some rather unfortunate misconception that “eating healthy” is automatically equivalent to “weight loss.” This has left many frustrated and in dismay, thinking about their failure in successfully shedding the excess kilos.

You see, weight loss is dependent on how many calories you are consuming. Such that even when the calories are from healthy foods, if it’s more than you need, you’ll still gain weight. Weight loss only occurs when you consume less calories than your body needs.

Many people believe that once a food is healthy, it’s automatically zero-calorie or low calories. This is absolutely false. This belief has resulted in many consuming too much of a good thing, resulting in them consuming way too many calories.

There are a number of healthy foods that are particularly high in calories, and you need to be aware, to guide how much you consume. But before I go on, let’s estimate the daily calorie intake for someone trying to lose weight as 1500cal, which is about 500cal per meal, if they eat thrice a day. This will help you put the numbers below in proper perspective.

I remember when they became so popular, they were like the holy grail of healthy diets. They can be a healthy addition, but you need only a small amount. The calories vary based on the exact recipe, but on an average, a cup has a whopping 450cal. That’s why I recommend you use them as garnishes in your yoghurt, for example, but not as a cereal in itself, to reduce how much you consume. Some of us also need to curb the habit of eating them mindlessly as a snack. You can easily consume all your calories for lunch without realising it. The calories in them come mainly from the nuts and dried fruits they commonly contain.

This is one amazing food, popularly found in salads. Some fans of it eat it alone as a snack. It is rich in healthy fats, but fats are fats, and fats are high in calorie. A medium sized avocado has about 320cal, and I know people who eat a whole one in one sitting. You know yourselves.

Just like the avocado, they are rich in healthy fats. From groundnuts to cashews, almonds and pistachios, they are a healthy addition to any diet. However, you need only a little amount. Twenty groundnuts have about 100cal. Imagine that, just twenty. To put it in perspective, two small oranges is also equivalent to 100cal. Now compare two oranges to twenty groundnuts.

Dried fruit
With the aim of upping fruit intake, some have opted for dried fruit. While they can be highly nutritious, they are calorie bombs. Dried fruits are simply fresh fruits that have had all their water content drained, making them shrink pretty significantly. This means you could eat two whole pineapples without realising it. But in its fresh state, you likely will never finish it.

Peanut butter
Very healthy, like the nut it is gotten from. That’s for brands that don’t load it with sugar, though. But added sugar or not, they are pretty high in calories, with just a tablespoon averaging a whopping 90cal.

Regardless of how fresh they are, they can easily get you in a calorie surplus if you don’t take care. Just like the dried fruits, drinking juices can have you consuming a lot more fruits than you imagine. A 500ml bottle of freshly squeezed orange juice is about 240cal; a bottle of Coke is 210cal. So if the juice is replacing your coke in a bid to lose weight, I’m sorry to bust your bubble. Don’t get me wrong , the juice is better than the coke, because at least it has nutrients to offer, unlike the Coke that’s sugar plus nothing else. But in terms of losing weight, you need to check those liquid calories.

Olive oil
Regardless of how healthy any oil is, it’s still high-calorie. A teaspoon (5mls) of oil has 45cal, which is why you need just a little in your cooking. Fried foods and generally oily foods are what’s robbing some people of achieving their weight-loss goals. What makes any oil healthy isn’t in the number of calories, but in how it affects your blood cholesterol levels, and the health benefits it has to offer.

Banana Bread
This one right here is another holy grail of the healthy eating trend. It is nutritious, thanks to the ingredients used in making it, but you best believe that it’s higher in calories than your regular bread. The crazy part is that many of us eat it like cake because it’s so nice. So, if weight loss is your goal, you really want to rethink the quantity you are consuming. A slice is about 200cal, while a slice of white bread and wheat bread are about 100cal and 80cal respectively. For most people, one to one and a half slices of banana bread is enough, in combination with other parts of your meal.

I’ll end here for today. I hope this has been eye-opening, revealing some of the things you might have been doing or eating wrong. Let me know your thoughts, and if you have questions for me, feel free to leave it in the comments.

Odunayo Abdulai is a first-class graduate of Pharmacy, certified nutritionist, and the founder/CEO of OptimumFoodie, an innovative nutrition and fitness company based in Lagos. Through her programs and book, she’s helped 1000s of women and men achieve their body and health goals eating Nigerian meals. Kindly visit


  1. Dee

    May 28, 2019 at 2:08 am

    Almost everything wey we dey eat dey high in calories.

    Just exercise regularly, enjoy ur meals and remember that too of anything is bad

    • Odunayo Abdulai

      May 28, 2019 at 7:43 pm

      Thank you for taking the time to read through. So here’s my 2 cents, more like 3, lol. Whole fruits (as in eating them as they are, no juicing, no drying) as well as vegetables are actually low calorie. It is part of why we are encouraged to eat more of them, then moderate the quantity of carbs and fat and fat in general. Too much of anything is indeed trouble, but knowing what you consume a lot of, and what you need to watch out for goes a long way.

      I’ll also like to state that exercising is never enough for weight loss, if a calorie deficit is not achieved via the diet, weight loss becomes a serious struggle. I see this mistake very often. You can’t out-exercise a high calorie diet.

  2. teecee

    May 28, 2019 at 8:37 am

    interesting! thanks for the information. I never thought these foods are high in calories

    • Odunayo Abdulai

      May 28, 2019 at 11:56 am

      You are most welcome! ?

    • Anna

      May 28, 2019 at 5:08 pm

      I agree with a lot of what you’re saying, but all calories are not created equal. If you consume a diet excessively high in simple, refined carbohydrates, but you’re under your calorie limit, your body will still end up converting excess to fat, and it’s not helping you nutritionally. There are many other factors to think about in how your body processes food, like glycemic index, energy storage, how your body uses fat, protein, and carbs and what your activity level is.

      I also think juice is not really better than soda. In some ways it might be worse because people think it’s better, so they go to town drinking it. You rightfully pointed out it’s higher calories, but is it that much healthier? It’s stripping fruit of the fiber and all that makes them good to consume and turning it into liquid sugar. It has a very high glycemic index and will spike your blood sugar just as much as a soda.

      I’d much rather have an avocado with some fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, a glass of water, and coffee with soymilk than a blueberry bagel and glass of orange juice for breakfast.

  3. Okewale Nathaniel

    May 28, 2019 at 3:20 pm

    Although these foods are high in calories,they can make you feel full quickly so you don’t consume too much calories. The key here is know the amount of calories you consume and exercise.

  4. Adeola

    May 28, 2019 at 5:43 pm

    Interesting twist and perspective. Thank you for letting us know.

    • Odunayo Abdulai

      May 28, 2019 at 7:36 pm

      You are most welcome!

  5. Billionaire in grace

    May 28, 2019 at 8:19 pm

    Thanks for the heads up on calories. I tend to eat a lot of Almond but mostly 10 every 1 week.but my major issue is with breads.

  6. JudithR

    May 28, 2019 at 9:43 pm

    This is very helpful.
    I’d like to to know what the expected total calorie intake per day is.

  7. BellaBela

    May 28, 2019 at 10:49 pm

    Nuts are high in calories but shown not to contribute to weight gain.

    So what’s the point of an article listing high calorie ingredients?

  8. Esther

    May 29, 2019 at 11:03 am

    This is quite revealing and instructive as well. Thanks. Please I juice quarter bag of carrots weekly, will this affect my weight loss?

  9. Manny

    May 31, 2019 at 3:21 am

    And what is wrong with eating a whole avocado in one sitting? You’re right about your facts but you’re not right with the application of the facts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Tangerine Africa

Star Features