Separating fact from fiction at the grocery store can be tricky sometimes. Lots of people find it useful to look at the front of the package when determining the healthiest foods to get, but in all reality all they are trying to do is sell you their products. Food companies have been setting their own standards for nutrition logos on the front of their packaging by highlighting the good aspects, like “high levels of fiber, vitamins, and minerals”, but what they fail to mention are the bad qualities, such as “fat, sodium, and added sugar”.
I’m sure products are more likely to catch your attention when they say “all natural” or “made with real fruit”… But what does that really mean??
Here’s a rundown for some misleading claims to help you on your next trip to the grocery store:
This one is tricky because the FDA has not developed a legal definition for the term “natural”, on account that after food has been processed it is not a product of the earth anymore. This gives companies a lot of leeway to add the term natural on their food, as long as it doesn’t contain any added color, artificial flavors, or is only minimally processed, but there are probably a lot of other unnatural ingredients that could be in there.
This is also loosely regulated by the FDA, which means it can have anywhere from 1-100 grams of various sweeteners, which can make it more fattening than a full serving of Oreo cookies! Try “no sugar added” labels instead to cut down on calories.
“Made With Whole Grains”
Many of these foods are filled with unbleached wheat flour and unhealthy refined corn flour. If whole wheat is found further down the list that means it contains a relatively small amount of it. The best thing to do is look for “100% whole wheat” or “100% whole grains” to make sure your getting what you want 100%!!
“Made With Real Fruit”
The quantity associated by this phrase is yet again not regulated by the FDA so that amount put in it is insignificant most of the time. When it comes to fruit, just eat real fruit!
“A Good Source of Fiber”
Although fiber is an important part of a balanced daily diet, you have to make sure you’re getting the right kind of fiber. Many times when fiber is advertised in processed foods, it is made out of a fiber additive called “purified powders”, which doesn’t have the same benefits found in natural sources, such as 100% whole grains and vegetables. In order to get the best source of fiber make sure to eat fresh fiber rich foods.