Shopping for food can be very confusing in our health-obsessed world in which marketers try to convince us that their foods are healthy. When we have to choose between different products we are often confused by labels such as “organic”, “fortified”, and “low fat”. But just because a product claims to be healthy or seems as though it is healthy, it’s not necessarily good for you.
Many foods are fortified with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients. Labels such as “A good source of calcium” or “Fortified with vitamin A” make the consumer think that because a product contains nutrients it is healthy. Foods that are fortified with nutrients to make them seem healthier can be high in saturated fats, sugars, and calories. Always read the nutrition facts and ingredients printed on food packaging before buying a food based on a few nutrients.
Organic foods are becoming more popular as more people become interested in helping the environment and improving health by avoiding pesticides and other harmful chemicals. Unfortunately, food companies often take advantage of this trend and create products which, while organic, are simply not healthy. For example, organic macaroni and cheese may not have been created from plants grown with pesticides, but it is no healthier than regular macaroni and cheese.
Low fat, low calorie
Many health-conscious shoppers are taken in by labels that exclaim that their products are “low fat” or have only 100 calories per serving. However, simply being low in fat does not make a food healthy. Cardboard is low in fat, but it’s also low in nutrition (and taste). Make sure that you read nutrition facts labels before buying a food based on fat content. If a food is high in monounsaturated fats, such as avocados or olives, it is usually healthier than foods that contain less fat but in the form of saturated fats. Also, check the label to see how many servings are in a package. Many people would be surprised to find out that some products contain more servings than one would actually eat. Some muffins, for example, are labelled as containing two servings per muffin, but most people don’t eat half of a muffin.
These are only a few of the ways in which marketers make foods seem healthy when they are really not. Always read the nutrition facts and ingredients on packaged food. If a food makes wonderful health claims but contains few ingredients you recognize or is made of white flour and refined sugar, you’re better off eating broccoli instead.