Avoid Misleading Food Packaging

Misleading Food Packaging

The grocery store is filled with a huge variety of foods that are packaged as healthy, natural, nutritious and low-calorie. The problem is, many of these so-called healthy foods are misleading.

Due to product marketing and competitive packaging, it can be hard to tell which foods are truly healthy and natural and which ones aren't. Getting educated about current food labeling regulations is a good idea, but if the thought overwhelms you, then here are some general guidelines to help you make better food choices.

When you can, try sticking to foods around the perimeter of the store. This means fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, seafood and some dairy. The dairy aisle can be tricky, too. Eggs, cheese, yogurt and butter are fine, but be mindful of labels. For example, margarine is often touted as being healthier than butter because it is low-fat. The reality is that margarine frequently contains unhealthy trans fats. A good way to know if this is the case is to check the label for "partially hydrogenated oils" which is another way to say "trans fats." When it comes to cheese, you will run into similar issues. Go with hard cheeses and read packaging.

Packaged foods like granola bars, juices, fruit snacks and bread can be particularly confusing. Words like natural, lightly sweetened, whole grain and real are sometimes deceptive. Many bottled juices you find in the aisles at the grocery store claim to be natural and made with real fruit. A closer look at the label reveals that there is very little "concentrated" fruit and a whole lot of artificial flavor, color and sugar.

Whole grain is another deceptive claim. Stating that a product contains whole grains simply means that whole grains have been included along with refined grains. The reality is that the product may contain only a small amount of healthy grains. A good way to test this is to feel how much the product weighs. Whole grains are more dense, so the product will be heavier.

Keeping an eye out and reading labels thoroughly can ensure that you buy products that are truly healthy.




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