What looks like a healthy choice on the outside isn't always what it seems on the inside. So, when one decides to eat healthy, it is often necessary to know all the facts of food so what you buy is actually as healthy as it appears on the surface/on the package.
Here are some labels that you may see on familiar brands that are not what is implied on the label:
What You See: MADE WITH REAL FRUIT
What You Get: Evidently, there are absolutely no regulations around this claim. Consider Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Cereal Bars Mixed Berry. The name sounds like a solid pre-activity bite. However, the made-with-real-fruit filling contains puree concentrate (more like sugar than actual fruit) of blueberries, strawberries, apples and raspberries.
THE SOLUTION: The lower a fruit is listed in the ingredients, the less the product contains. If you want your fruit intake, rely on whole fruits. 1
What You See: LIGHTLY SWEETENED
What You Get: Unlike "sugar-free" and "no-added sugars" this claim isn't regulated by the FDZ. It's easy to be fooled. Wheaties brand, Fuel, a cereal that's marketed specifically to athletes and carries the lightly sweetened label, contains more sugar per 3/4 serving (14g) than the same amount of Fruit Loops (9g).
THE SOLUTION: Check the nutrition facts panel. The American Heart Association recommends that women keep added sugars below 24 grams per day, and men aim for less than 36 grams. There are many non-sugar cereals, and then you only have to watch for the truth in labeling regarding actual organic v.s. natural (Be aware most cereals, especially the corn cereals, fall into the guilty column of GMOs).
What You See: GLUTEN FREE
What You Get: This one is extremely serious. To make this claim, a product must be made without wheat, barely or rye, but there have been reports of cross-contamination with gluten-containing grains during growing or manufacturing. 2
THE SOLUTION: Look for a seal from the Gluten-Free Certification Organization, the Celiac Sprue Association or the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. All of these organizations test products to ensure they have no gluten.
What You See: ADDED FIBER
What You Get: Though products with this claim do actually pack additionally fiber, it is often listed as polydestrose, inulin (derived from chicory root) or maltodextrin. It's unknown whether consuming them has the same benefits as, for example, lowering cholesterol, which the fiber found naturally in whole foods is known for.
THE SOLUTION: It's okay to consume added fiber often found in cereal, yogurt and energy bars, but too much can cause a bellyache, so aim for 14 grams per 1,000 calories.
What You See: WILD RICE
What You Get: True wild rice comes from a plant that's indigenous to certain lakes and rivers in the Midwest and Canada. Most people eat the kind produced out of California which may be treated with chemicals. 3
THE SOLUTION: Look for the plant name Zizania palustris on the ingredient list. It packs four times the amount of protein, 73 times the potassium and 12 times the fiber per serving than its imposters.
1 Bonnie Taub-Diox, RD, author of Read It Before You Eat It
2 Pamela Cureton, RD, a dietitian at the Center fr Celiac Research, University of Maryland School of Medicine
3 Peter David, wildlife biologist at the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, Wisconsin
The 5% Solution
Words of wisdom from Dr. George Wl Calver, U.S. Congress first-appointed doctor in 1928, and notice that the solution remains the same this year as in 1928 when Dr. Calver first presented it to congress
Drink Plentifully (of filtered water)
Accept Inevitables (i.e., Don't worry)
Check up Occcasionally
If you give 5% of your time to keeping well, you will not have to spend 100% of your time getting well.
Source: AARP Bulletin, Jan-Feb 2012