Fakers in the Food Aisle – What Can You Believe?

Is all that health food you’re eating making you fit – or fat?
Take a peek at the ingredient list and the nutrition facts label. With a little help (warning: you might need to put on reading glasses to see the “truth”), you just might find the answer someplace on that product.

Check to see:
Are the total fat grams, multiplied by 9 calories/gm, more than 30% of the total calories? If so, you have a “fatty” product. Even healthy fat makes you fat, if you eat too much of it.

Are the saturated fat grams more than 10% of the total fat grams? If so, you have a product that has too much unhealthy fat. Too much unhealthy fat not only affects the waistline, it can ruin your health.

Is there a significant amount of “unaccounted for” fat (total fat grams listed, minus the amounts listed for specific types of fat)? If so, you have a product that has too much trans fat, which is the unhealthy by-product of hydrogenation. Trans fats are extremely bad for you in any significant quantity.

Is it a carbohydrate-rich food that contains highly processed, refined ingredients and few, if any, grams of fiber? If so, you have reached the health-free zone! Choose fiber rich, whole grain-based breads, cereals and crackers, and your body will process your intake efficiently, without causing a spike in blood sugar or converting the excess to body fat.

Here’s how to interpret what’s on the front of the box:

Health Claims describe the relationship between a food/food component/dietary supplement, and reducing the risk of a disease/health-related condition. An example to look for might be “Soluble fiber from oatmeal may reduce the risk of heart disease, as part of a low saturated fat, low cholesterol diet”.

Watch out for the disclaimer that accompanies preliminary health food claims. These are made on incomplete, shaky evidence. If you find a disclaimer that says something like “the FDA has determined that there is little scientific evidence and is not conclusive” – put the product down.
The responsibility for ensuring the validity of these health food claims rests with the manufacturer, FDA, or, in the case of advertising, with the Federal Trade Commission.