Healthy. All-Natural. Skinny. Low-Cal. Free Of This. Free Of That…
The list of appealing health-conscious terms goes on and on. Food companies have become very skilled at marketing not-so-healthy products to today’s consumers. If you walk down the supermarket aisle and see a beautiful, earthy looking snack packaging with the words “All-Natural” on it, you’re bound to think that you are making a healthy food choice for you and your body. These “healthy” items are also typically more expensive than other supermarket snacks.
Unfortunately, these “healthy” snacks aren’t all they are hyped up to be. Most people don’t read the ingredients list before purchasing a food item. Even for people who read food labels, companies have strategic methods to disguise the true content of their products. So let’s chat about 5 Ways Healthy Foods Are Fooling You!
5 Ways Healthy Foods Are Fooling You
But what are the terms, phrases, and ingredients to look for to distinguish truly healthy from unhealthy products? Here are the top five phrases that you should keep in mind next time you are at the supermarket:
When it comes to food labels, the word “natural” is not regulated; food companies can use this word freely, making it meaningless. The FDA does not define the word, and the USDA has a vague definition that involves minimal processing for meats and dairy. Moral of the story: read food labels, choose products with ingredients you can actually pronounce, and go with the fewest number of ingredients.
Made With Real Fruit
The “real fruit” in these food products is typically composed of fruit juices or purees that are very processed and concentrated. Nutrients are lost when processing this fruit, and the sugar content skyrockets. Stick to an actual real piece of fruit, and avoid fruit-flavored candies and snacks.
Certain items, like sugar-free gum, can be advantageous because they won’t feed at cavities like gum with real sugar will. However, sugar-free snacks are usually loaded with artificial sweeteners and other ingredients to amp up the flavor. Although this claim is true since these products do not contain real sugar, artificial sweeteners in these products are no better. Research on artificial sweeteners has shown to actually promote weight gain.
Ever take a look at the ingredients list on fat-free products? It’s usually lengthier than a Nicholas Sparks novel. If a product is fat-free, food companies will typically compensate for taste with added sugar and highly processed ingredients. Although there may be less fat in the product, the additional ingredients aren’t necessarily better for you. Your best bet is to avoid any fat free or low fat products, and stick to whole, natural foods. A healthy diet incorporates dietary fats because they are essential in providing the body with energy and supporting cell growth. Fat also absorbs some nutrients and helps produce hormones that are crucial to body function. Don’t be scared of fat; eat healthy fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, in moderation with a balanced diet.
A food company is legally allowed to say that a product is free of trans fat if it has less than half a gram of trans fat per serving. However, serving sizes can be deceiving on many food labels. If you end up eating more than a serving of that particular snack, you are getting a full gram or more of trans fat. How can you check for trans fat? Read the ingredients list and be on the lookout for the word “hydrogenated”; if the label has hydrogenated on it, it contains trans fat. Trans fat free foods also contain large amounts of saturated fat and added sugars. They are typically low in nutrients as well, so try to avoid these products.