December 13, 2012 by thehealthyheartcenter
“Made with whole grains,” “good source of antioxidants,” “made from real fruit,” … these are only a few of the unlimited phrases you may see in the food store on products trying to advertise healthy options. So where’s the problem? A good percentage of these foods are sometimes either not accurately labeled, or they are not actually offering the sufficient amount of nutrition your body needs.
What to look out for…
1. 100% Vitamin C: 2-3 servings of fruit or vegetables a day are generally a guaranteed way to get an adequate amount of this vitamin. What you want to be aware of that is a lot of drinks advertising Vitamin C may also be high in sugar, so be sure to check the Nutrition Facts Panel as well.
2. Made with Whole Grains: It is not regulated that a product advertising this has to be entirely or solely composed of whole grains. Some of these products may actually be made up of mostly white flour (unbleached wheat flour). Check the ingredients list; the first ingredient should list “whole wheat flour,” or “whole grain.”
3. Added Fiber: Many foods are now being fortified with added fiber since it is heart healthy; However, it’s important to be aware of what kind of of fiber you are getting. Ingredients like inulin or chicory root are types of insoluble fiber, meaning they keep your digestive system regulated, while soluble fiber such as oatmeal, nuts, seeds, and beans offer the heart healthy cholesterol-lowering benefits.
4. Fortified with Omega-3’s: Similar to fiber, there are different omega-3 fatty acids to be aware of. Most products offering this are more so using the ALA acids, which are not readily absorbed by the body. What you want to look for is DHA and EPA, although it may not always be a sufficient amount to actually be beneficial. It is best to get this nutrient through fish, or fish oil supplements.
5. Made With/From Real Fruit: Products offering this phrase are typically of most apprehension because they tend to only use a very small amount of real fruit. Foods such as yogurts, waffles, cereals, and fruit snacks are usually composed of juice concentrate, or fruit “bits” mixed with non-fruit ingredients such as fat and oil. If you’re looking to get in your daily serving, try sticking to the produce section.
6. Immunity-Boosting: Typically these products will be fortified with vitamins A, E, and C; however, it is not yet proven that A and E can prevent the common cold or cancers in supplement form. Large doses of Vitamin C are considered more effective to improve immunity, at about 1,000 mg.
Knowing how to read and interpret nutrition labels is extremely useful in deciphering the nutritional-quality of foods, and if they can actually be considered healthy, or may be misleading. Being aware and more conscious of ingredients and servings is the best power to have when making decisions in the food store, use it to your advantage!