Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Top Food Label Lies

The Daily Green publication came up with a list of top "nutritional lies" in food labels. Check out this summary on how to recognize them:

1. Made with Whole Grains
Many times unbleached wheat flour is the main ingredient, and whole wheat flour is the third on the list, "indicating that the product contains relatively little," according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Some products that trumpet their whole grain credentials use caramel to mimic the brown color that results from the use of whole grains.

2. Ingredient Lists
Just add up all the sugars that go by different names: sugar, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup and white grape juice concentrate. Boom! A sugar explosion.
Which can of diced tomatoes is 60% tomato and 40% water, and which is 70% tomato? How much fruit is actually in that fruity-looking "health" bar? Right now, there's no way to know .

3. Serving Size
A 20 oz. soda fits easily in your hand, fits easily in your car's cup holder and might even come free with a sandwich at the local deli. But even if a reasonable person might perceive that bottle as a single-serving delivery system, there are 2.5 official servings in there, meaning 100 calories per "serving" ... but 240 calories per bottle. Very trick...

4. Omega 3
Everyone knows Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy, but that doesn't mean every product emblazoned with the word is a healthy source of it. The FDA allows certain foods that are rich in two of the Omega-3 fatty acids to advertise that they can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, but only if they're also low in saturated fats or other risk factors.

5. Made with Real Fruit
Case-in-point: Gerber Fruit Juice Treats for Preschoolers. Its package blooming with pictures of ripe oranges, raspberries, cherries, peaches, grapes and pineapple, its only fruit-like ingredient is fruit juice concentrate, which the Dietary Guidelines for Americans considers just another form of sugar. Similarly, Betty Crocker "Strawberry Splash Fruit Gushers" say they're made with real fruit, but the only thing approximating fruit is pear concentrate (sugar) with Red No. 40 for "strawberry" color.
Bottom line: If you want real fruit, buy real fruit. If you want candy, buy candy.

6. Zero Trans Fat
While some companies reformulated their products to reduce the use of risky fats, many just replaced trans fats with saturated fats. These reformulated foods are basically just as bad, but they scream one truth: "0 trans fats!" to obscure another: "still bad for your heart!"

7. Free Range Eggs
The government doesn't regulate the use of the phrase "free range" or "cage free" on eggs. Legally speaking, it's meaningless, according to Consumer Reports' Eco Label Decoder.
The Department of Agriculture does have rules for use of the term on poultry. It means chickens must be granted the luxury of exactly five minutes of "access" to the outdoors everyday.

8. Fiber
Fibers advertised in many foods are mainly "purified powders" called inulin, polydextrose and maltodextrin, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. For the real thing, look for foods like whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans.

Source: The Daily Green

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