Avoid Falling for Grocery Store Food Traps

grocery_shopping_food_labels_health

“Made with fruit and vegetables” or “Contains a serving of fruits and/or vegetables” - While these kinds of claims sounds great —it’s not always as it seems. Many manufacturers are using fruit and vegetable powders to create healthy foods made from unhealthy ingredients.

Whole fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and minerals, phytochemicals, fiber, and water that aren’t included when you use a powder. While it’s true you may get some nutrients, it tends to be a fraction of what you would find in the whole fruit. Fruits and vegetables are very low in calories and are more satisfying. With many of these products, you get the fruit or vegetable powder coupled with sugar, starch, and fat – not guaranteeing a low calorie option.

Foods to watch out for: fruit snacks, prepackaged smoothies, and vegetable chips/pastas

“Made with whole grains” - The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends whole grain intake be at least half of all grains consumed. Many manufacturers are producing more foods made with whole grains.  However, just because something is made with whole grains, does not make it a healthy food. If there are eight or more grams of whole grain per serving, the grain can be considered a “whole grain” and you’ll see the Whole Grains Council’s stamp on its label. Many foods have more than their fair share of refined grains and sugar added.

Foods to watch out for: frozen waffles, cookies, crackers, breakfast cereals, and desserts

“Contains 5 grams of fiber” - Most Americans fall short of their fiber intake and don’t get anywhere close to the recommended 25-30 grams per day. There are many health benefits to fiber, increasing satiety, keeping bowel movements regular, and aids in lowering cholesterol levels. However, if a food does not contain fiber naturally (think fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, whole grains), then a manufactured fiber has been added. We don’t see the same health benefit with added fibers as we do with intact fibers. They do not impact satiety and only minimally increase bowel regularity.

Foods to watch out for: Watch out for fiber added to protein/meal replacement bars, cookies, desserts, and granola bars.

“Nuts” - Nuts are a hot commodity and convey health whenever we see them in our favorite grocery store and nuts really are all they are cracked up to be – no pun intended -but not all foods that contain nuts are. Beverages like almond or cashew milk don’t really contain many nuts and may actually be packed with added sugars. Additionally, many foods have added chocolate or sugar to increase acceptance.

Foods to watch out for: Caution with nut milks, trail mix, chocolate nut spreads.