Naturally, if you are anything like me you rely on the veracity and hence accuracy of food labeling. Is there truth in labeling? We know there isn’t in advertising. Companies have discovered the right buzzword or phrase on the face of the product allows for a fake-out. Front-of-package nutrition labeling seems consumer-friendly but can imply incorrectly it is a healthier choice.
I want to mention, in this blog, a few tricks that make some products sound healthy than they really are.
FIBER FAKE OUT
The most common ‘fake out’ deals with the fiber content in a product. The minimum recommended adult daily allowance for dietary fiber is 28 grams a day for a 2,000 calorie diet. But increasing intake of dietary fiber helps your heart, lower blood pressure, glucose (sugar), and cholesterol levels; never mind the aid our bowels functioning properly. The bonus is the sense of satiety, which leads to eating less and weighing less!
New labeling allows a blur between fiber and sugar as defined by FDA. Manufacturers can now count a slew of additives known as synthetic or isolated nondigestible carbohydrates as part of a food’s total fiber count. Examples are these additives: alginate, guar gum, polydextrose, phosphorylated starch, and even something called hydroxypropyl methylcellulose.
Dress up junk food with these additives and it can be made to sound health. Not really contributing to the benefit of fiber.
My solution is always to get fiber from natural sources and that includes whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds, or vegetables and fruit.
WHOLE GRAINS FAKE OUT
Next is whole grains ( bran, germ, and endosperm of a whole grain kernel) well associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and digestive problems. So yes, we need this in our daily diets.Additives like molasses or colorants and other grain products make it sound like ‘multigrain’. And you might see this on the front of the packaging. Use of several different grains, all of which may be fully refined and stripped of their health benefits might also be included. So if you read ‘made with whole grain’ it can in reality be a very small amount of whole grains compared to the amount of refined grain. Eva Greenthal, MS, MPH, senior science policy associate with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), says “Don’t be fooled by the words ‘wheat flour.’ Look for 100% whole wheat bread. The word ‘whole’ is key.”
Next week we will discuss the hidden trans fats even though deemed no longer safe to consume, it still is very much present in our food supply.