When people become more health conscious, food companies try to make products sound more healthy. It’s important to not be caught off-guard by the tricks they use.
The following are five to watch out for:
“Contains natural ingredients!”
On food packaging, companies will proudly display this statement or a variation of it, like “all natural” and – my favorite – “made with real fruit.” (“There’s real fruit in our fruit juice. How unexpected!”)
But is a product with “natural ingredients” actually healthy? Maybe, maybe not. If I bake an apple pie, it will contain real apples. It will also have plenty of sugar. All-natural sugar.
Organic is a healthy-sounding word, and some foods described as organic are in fact healthy. Other times, not so much. I’ve seen organic candies and chocolate bars. I may be using organic apples for my sugary apple pie.
“Only 70 calories per serving!”
That doesn’t sound too bad. It’s only 70 calories. But be sure to check the serving size. If the serving size is a teaspoon, and you just ate 10 teaspoons…
The same warning applies to other nutritional claims, like, “Only 4 grams of sugar per serving!” Always check the serving size.
Many foods are low in fat. But when you check the nutrition label, you may discover that they’re high in sugar or salt or that they contain undesirable additives, like unhealthy oils.
“It’s yogurt, so it’s healthy!”
Companies love to take advantage of the fact that you associate certain foods with health. Yogurt is one example. Many people automatically assume that a yogurt product is a healthy choice. But this isn’t always true. For certain brands, a small yogurt cup will contain a lot of sugar, especially if it’s flavored yogurt. Always check the nutrition label.
Another example is salad. Salads can be a healthy choice, but not if you bury the vegetables in heavy dressings and croutons. In some restaurants, salads are hundreds of calories because of the excessive use of oily, salty, or sugary additives. The word ‘salad’ still gives these dishes a vaguely healthy aura.