5 of the Most Deceptive Claims at the Grocery Store:

5 of the Most Deceptive Claims at the Grocery Store:

© Shutterstock Shopping cart in supermarket aisle

© Shutterstock Shopping cart in supermarket aisle

You may see “good for you assurances” on foods that aren’t, well, good for you. Here’s what to look out for.

I love going to the grocery store: I could spend hours walking the aisles, taking in the sights and smells, and checking out new products.

I’ve noticed, however, that my happy trips can take an awkward turn when I run into a fellow mom or one of my patients. They’ll often point to their cart, and silently nod for approval for all the healthy items they are bringing home. In too many carts, I see “good for you assurances” on foods that aren’t, well, good for you.

Here are top five offenders lurking in your grocery store:

1. The ‘made from’ or ‘made with’ label

All too often, the “made with” label is there to distract you so you fail to see what else is in the product.

Start with “whole grains,” for example. While it’s great that a product is made with whole grains, technically, you could be eating stripped grains with a little whole grain thrown in. Look for a “100 percent” label on your grain products.

2. The ‘only this many calories per serving’ label

When we start worrying about the quantity of calories, we stop caring about the quality. Although eating more calories than you need may contribute to weight gain, calorie amounts are not a testament to nutrient density.

Nuts have a lot of calories, yet they are one of the healthiest foods on earth.

Resist the urge to purchase a processed, artificial food for the lure of how many calories it contains. You’ll most likely be paying for it in the end by overindulging.

3. The ‘all natural’ assurance

Natural has not yet been defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In fact, the FDA has only accepted the use of the term to mean “nothing artificial or synthetic (including all color additives regardless of source) has been included in, or has been added to, a food that would not normally be expected to be in that food.”

The problem with this limited definition is that it does not contain information related to food processing or use of pesticides. Plus, there are plenty of natural products, like sugar, that don’t contribute to good health.

Until more detailed criteria are developed, don’t expect the “natural” claim to mean your food was just pulled from the ground or a tree.

4. Organic

A 2011 study from Cornell University compared two identical chocolate chip cookies. One was labeled as regular and the other as organic. Study participants showed a preference for the organic option based on taste and nutrient density — they thought the cookie must be lower in fat and calories. They were also willing to pay more for the organic option. Again, the two cookies were 100 percent identical.

This is attributing healthiness to a product, simply based on a label.

Going organic is often a great idea, but if you see the claim used to sell cookies, crackers and candy, don’t assume it’s a better version of its non-organic counterpart.

5. No high fructose corn syrup

A lack of high fructose corn syrup does not give a product a free pass. Bragging about a lack of high fructose corn syrup is a case of a manufacturer trying to persuade you that all the other sugars in the product shouldn’t be looked at with as much disdain. The item could still have an excess amount of other sugars, making you less satisfied, and more willing to eat and buy more.

We eat too much sugar to begin with, from all sources — about 130 pounds of it per year. That’s almost 60,000 grams of the sweet stuff.

Bottom line: Focus on eating less sugar overall, not on eliminating just one type.

Here’s the secret to eating healthy:

Eat real food. Don’t rely on the front of the package. Instead, focus on the ingredient list to assess the quality of the product. The healthiest foods on the planet need no marketing at all.

Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, R.D., is the manager of wellness nutrition services at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute in Cleveland, Ohio, and the author of “Skinny Liver.” Follow her on Twitter @KristinKirkpat. For more diet and fitness advice, sign up for our One Small Thing newsletter.


Photo Source:  © Shutterstock Shopping cart in supermarket aisle

Want to Better Comply with Dietary Guidelines, and Save Money? Cook Dinner At Home:

Want to Better Comply with Dietary Guidelines, and Save Money? Cook Dinner At Home:

TMeal preparation image by oregon state universityhe best culinary paths to better health are not always paved with cash, new research shows, and cooking at home can provide the best bang-for-the-buck nutritionally as well as financially.

A study by Arpita Tiwari, a health systems researcher at Oregon State University, and collaborators at the University of Washington confirms what many mothers and grandmothers have said for decades: that habitually eating dinner at home means a better diet and lower food expenditures compared with regularly dining out.

“Traditionally better socioeconomic status — more money — means healthier people,” Tiwari said. “That’s the trend. This research goes against that; it shows a resilience to that trend. It’s not spending more but how you spend that’s important. What you eat is important.”

“Cooking at home reduces that expenditure, and our research empirically quantifies that when we regularly eat dinner at home, our nutrition intake is better.”

Tiwari is quick to point out, though, that researchers understand the barriers to home-cooked meals.

“A mother who has two jobs and four children, even if she knows the value of home-cooked dinners, doesn’t have time to cook,” Tiwari said. “Government policy needs to be mindful of things like that when states create programs to help Medicaid populations achieve nutritional goals. Right now our system really does not allow for it. What can the government do about that? That’s what needs to be explored in the near future.”

The research involved more than 400 Seattle-area adults who were surveyed regarding a week’s worth of cooking and eating behaviors. Participants also provided various types of sociodemographic information, and their weekly food intake was graded using the Healthy Eating Index (HEI).

HEI scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating better diet quality. An index score over 81 indicates a “good” diet; 51 to 80 means “needs improvement”; and 50 or less is “poor.”

Households that cooked at home three times per week showed an average score of about 67 on the Healthy Eating Index; cooking at home six times per week resulted in an average score of around 74.

“Higher HEI scores are generally associated with higher socioeconomic status, education and income,” Tiwari said. “By contrast, cooking dinner at home depends more on the number of children at home. The study showed no association between income or education and eating at home or eating out.”

The findings also suggested that regularly eating home-cooked dinners, associated with diets lower in calories, sugar and fat, meant meeting more of the guidelines for a healthy diet as determined by the Department of Agriculture.

Eighty percent of U.S. residents fail to meet at least some of the federal dietary guidelines, the study notes, and about half the money spent on eating in the U.S. is on food not cooked at home. From the 1970s to the late 1990s, the percentage of home-cooked calories consumed fell from 82 to 68.

“HMOs should have ancillary programs to really encourage people to eat healthier,” Tiwari said. “It’s a benefit for insurance companies to get involved; eating is really the source of most of the issues that the insurance system has to deal with down the road.”

The National Institutes of Health supported this research. Findings were published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Oregon State University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Super Foods That Burn Fat

Super Foods That Burn Fat

1. Tomatoes
2. Oranges
3. Oats
4. Spices
5. Sweet Potatoes
6. Apples
7. Nuts
8. Quinoa
9. Beans
10. Egg Whites
11. Grapefoot
12. Chicken Breast
13. Bananas
14. Pears
15. Pine Nuts
16. Mushrooms
17. Letils
18. Hot Peppers
19. Broccoli
20. Organic Lean Meats
21. Cantaloupe
22. Spinach
23. Green Tea
24. Cinnamon
25. Asparagus
26. Avocado
27. Peanut Butter
28. Salmon
29. Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
30. Greek Yogurt
31. Olive Oil
32. Blueberries
33. Turkey Breast
34. Flax Seeds

Fruits & Veggies: Add more to your diet!

Fruits & Veggies: Add more to your diet!

Fruits and Vegetables

Fresh, filling and heart-healthy, fruits and vegetables are an important part of your overall healthy eating plan. They are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber and low in fat and calories. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables may help you control your weight and your blood pressure.

Mom was right; eat your peas and carrots (and grapes and oranges).

The American Heart Association recommends eating eight or more fruit and vegetable servings every day. An average adult consuming 2,000 calories daily should aim for 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables a day. Also, variety matters, so try a wide range of fruits and veggies.

When added sugars and sodium hide, you must seek:

Any product that contains fruit has some natural sugars. However, sugars are often added to packaged or prepared fruit and may be disguised as many different names on the list of ingredients. The line for “sugars,” as you see on a Nutrition Facts panel, includes both added and naturally occurring sugars. Learn more about sugars.

Sodium is also often added to canned or frozen vegetables. Check the amount on the Nutrition Facts panel (link to the Reading Food Labels page) and choose reduced or sodium-free products. Limiting sodium can help you reduce the risk for heart disease. Learn more about sodium.

Tips to boost fruits and vegetables to your diet

  • Keep it colorful. Challenge yourself to try fruits and vegetables of different colors. Make it a red/green/orange day (apple, lettuce, carrot), or see if you can consume a rainbow of fruits and vegetables during the week.
  • Add it on. Add fruit and vegetables to foods you love. Try adding frozen peas to mac’n’cheese, veggies on top of pizza and slices of fruit on top of breakfast cereals or low-fat ice cream.
  • Mix them up. Add fruits and vegetables to food that’s cooked or baked, or mix vegetables in with pasta sauces, lasagnas, casseroles, soups and omelets. Mixing fresh or frozen berries into pancakes, waffles or muffins is another great way to make fruits and veggies a part of every meal.
  • Roast away. Try roasting vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, onions, carrots, tomatoes or eggplant. Long exposure to high heat will cause these foods to caramelize, which enhances their natural sweetness and reduces bitterness.
  • Use healthier cooking methods. Steaming, grilling, sautéing, roasting, baking and microwaving vegetables are ideal preparation methods. Use fats and oils low in saturated fats sparingly; don’t use trans fats.
  • Enjoy vegetable dippers. Chop raw vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Try bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower and celery, and dip your favorites into low-fat or fat-free dressings. Dip tip: Read the food label of sauces and dressings to make sure they are not overloaded with saturated fat and salt.
  • Sip smoothies. Smoothies are a great way to increase the amount of fruit you eat and they’re really easy to make. A basic smoothie is just frozen fruit, some low-fat or non-fat milk and/or yogurt, and 100% fruit juice all processed together in a blender until smooth. Experiment with different fruits to find out what you really like. Note that some cholesterol-lowering medications may interact with grapefruit, grapefruit juice, pomegranate and pomegranate juice. Please talk to your health care provider about any potential risks.
  • Try fruit pops. Put 100% fruit juice in an ice tray and freeze it overnight. You can eat the fruit cubes as mini-popsicles or put them in other juices. Frozen seedless grapes make natural mini-popsicles and are a great summer treat.
  • Enjoy fruit desserts. Fresh or canned fruit in light syrup or natural fruit juice, gelatin containing fruit and dried fruit are good choices for a dessert.