Not-So-Healthy 'Health' Foods
Some foods you think are good for you may not be all they seem
Hidden Diet Hazards continued...
While even marginally health-conscious shoppers know that packaged lunch
meats and canned soups can be laden with sodium, how many of us would think to
check the label on our breakfast cereal? Some cereals, Heller says, contain as
much as 500 milligrams of sodium per serving.
Equally surprising is how much fat, sugar, or sodium may be lurking in your
"Some ground turkey can have a higher percentage of fat than extra-lean
ground beef," says Sandon, while many raw turkey breasts are injected with
"flavor enhancers," which loads them with sugar and salt.
"Come Thanksgiving, you should definitely read those turkey labels as
well as asking your butcher for fat content on all ground meats before you
buy," she says.
Label Me Confused
Of course, reading labels is important whenever you're trying to make
healthy food choices. But if you're only reading the front of the package, you
could still get into trouble.
According to the CSPI, a good example of why this is true can be found in
certain brands of "enhanced water" (water with added vitamins and
herbs). According to CSPI research, at least some of these brands also add
sugar -- taking a glass of water from zero calories to 125 calories.
Another healthy dose of confusion, say experts, can come from some foods
labeled "light," "all natural," or even "organic."
"Most people don't realize that 'light' olive oil, for example, isn't
lower in calories or fat -- it's just lighter in color and taste," says
Klein. Potato chips labeled "all natural" she says, are nothing more
than potato chips without the preservatives; they're still loaded with fat and
Many manufacturers use the front label to tout a product's most healthy
attributes. Unfortunately, that doesn't always mean the food is a healthy
For example, consider products that boast "no cholesterol."
"At first glance you think, 'Wow, this has no cholesterol, it must be
good for me,'" says Klein. "But unless you stop to read the back label,
you might not realize that it could also be loaded with fat, steeped in sodium
or sugar, and generally high in calories, and not very good for you at
Klein tells WebMD it also easy to jump to the wrong conclusion about foods
labeled "low fat," many of which are high in both sugar and calories.
Another potential deceiver: Foods labeled "multigrain" or "seven
"Multigrain or seven grain does not mean whole grain, so you're not
getting the fiber you think you are," Klein says. Unless the label says
"whole grain," it's not the healthiest choice, she says.
Too Much Of a Good Thing?
Labels that tout their products as "trans fat-free" may also lead us
astray, experts say. "The issue here is that any food in which a single
serving contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat is entitled to be called
trans fat-free," says Heller, "but if you eat enough of those foods in
a given day, you are in real danger of hitting a truly unhealthy level of this