|The Whole Truth|
|Thursday, 24 May 2012 15:26|
New York, New York, May 2012— Labels like “Good source of fiber” or “Lower sodium” may sound good, but according to registered dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix, it’s something you may want to avoid.
“Flashy claims on the front of packages can be misleading,” she said, “In many cases, you need to read the nutrition information on the back to find out what’s really inside.”
In other words, don’t let subtle differences in wording trick you when looking for healthy food options. Labels, which are regulated by the FDA, only need to reach the minimum requirements in nutrients to pass. But not to worry; Taub-Dix has a few tips for you to remember before making your grocery purchase decisions this week.
The terms “light” and “lower sodium” are used to compare the product to others on the shelf. According to Better Homes and Gardens, “Light ice cream might be lower-cal than its counterpart, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you.” So when you read the nutrition labels, instead of “lower salt”, look for “low salt”.
The term “natural” is also misleading. This is a concern because “many iffy food additives, such as MSG, technically are natural because their components occur in nature,” according to the magazine. “If you eat enough of them, many innocent-sounding natural ingredients (like cheese) can undermine health”.
When a label says “Made with organic ingredients”, it doesn’t mean the entire product is organic. In this case, only 70 percent is required. To get at least 95 percent organic ingredients, look for the “USDA Organic” seal. However, it is still important to know that “even though organic foods contain fewer man-made chemicals”, it doesn’t mean they’re always healthy.
Today, people assume anything with “fiber” on the box is a healthy choice. While it may be a better alternative than something else, be careful about what fiber sources you choose. Look for fiber from whole foods instead of fiber from additives. Additionally, foods with the label “Good source of fiber” are only required by the FDA to have “10-19 percent of the daily recommended daily value of fiber per serving”. Instead, look for “Excellent source of fiber”, which contain a minimum of 20 percent.
You should also beware of fruit juice sweeteners. Although fruits are a good source of vitamins, products “Sweetened with fruit juice” could use any number of other types of additional sweeteners, some with little benefit.
Lastly, the term “Contains Whole Grains” doesn’t necessarily mean the food has enough whole grain to make a big difference. Look for labels that promise “100 Percent Whole Grain” instead.
SOURCE: Better Homes and Gardens, March 2012 Issue
(Photo credit: iStock Photos)