Posted August 29, 2014
Food labels may not tell you everything you need to know about a product. Many items are marketed as healthy, even when they’re not. Don’t be fooled by food labels. Learn the truth about the ingredients used to produce your favorite foods.
U.S. News and World Report recently identified several ways consumers are misled by food labels. Here’s the scoop on popular food phrases:
- Dark chocolate – Flavonoids in cocoa provide several health benefits, but unless a dark chocolate product has 70 percent or more cocoa, consumers may be eating higher amounts of sugar and saturated fats than expected.
- Multi-grain – People purchase multi-grain products thinking they are healthier than whole grain, but that’s not true. “Whole grain” means that all components of the grain are kept together vs. being separated. Multi-grain products include grains that have been refined, removing much of their nutritional value. Look for foods labeled as 100 percent whole wheat or whole grain.
- Natural – Foods marketed as “natural” should contain only one ingredient. For example, natural peanut butter should be made from only peanuts.
- No high-fructose corn syrup – There are many misleading statements about sugar content in foods. Foods labeled “no high-fructose corn syrup” may contain unhealthy amounts of other sugars. Research shows that added sugars increase the risk for cardiovascular disease, and consuming any type of sugar can contribute to weight gain.
- Real fruit – Foods labeled as “made with real fruit” actually may contain mostly juice concentrates, sugars and flavorings, and minimal fruit. Find real fruit in the fresh produce section.
- Reduced sodium – Products with this label have only 25 percent less sodium than the original food item. If you’re trying to reduce your sodium or salt intake, look for foods marked as sodium-free or low-sodium.
- Fortified – Many products, especially breakfast cereals, are fortified with vitamins and minerals. This sounds good, but research shows that amounts of vitamin A, zinc and niacin in fortified products are geared toward adults. This means that children are ingesting excessive, and often dangerous, amounts of these vitamins and minerals.
Do your favorite foods fall into any of these categories?
Minimize the negative impact by exercising portion control and adding lots of whole, unprocessed foods to your diet.