What's New on Your Supermarket Shelf?
Health, convenience prime concerns for consumers
What's In, What's Out continued...
At the same time, manufacturers are rushing to remove another ingredient,
artery-clogging trans fats, from their products. Trans fats, also known as
hydrogenated fats, are found in many processed foods and are made by turning
liquid vegetable oils into solid products like margarine and shortening.
On the heels of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines' recommendation to limit trans
fats, many manufacturers are reformulating products to reduce or eliminate
them. In January 2006, all food labels will be required to list the amount of
trans fats the foods contain. (In the meantime, be sure to read labels and
Of course, new food technology is about taste as well as health.
Consider slow-churned ice cream technology, which makes lower-calorie ice
cream taste like the real thing without artificial sweeteners or fat
substitutes. This means manufacturers can deliver the creamy taste of
full-butterfat ice cream at a fraction of the calories -- now that's
The Magic Number: 100
One of the hottest trends in weight control is portion-controlled,
100-calorie packages. Coca-Cola, Cheese Nips, Wheat Thins, Pringles, Oreos, and
Ritz crackers have all jumped on the bandwagon with portion-controlled versions
of their snacks and drinks.
These 100-calorie packs are ideal for people who crave snacks but can't
control their own portions, says Katherine Tallmadge, RD, a spokesperson for
the American Dietetic Association.
Still, she points out, they're not exactly health foods.
"These are essentially small portions of calorically dense snack foods,
and a lot less nutritious than a piece of fruit, handful of nuts, or a low-fat
yogurt," she says. "Approach them mindfully, and try to limit these
snacks to once a day. It is better to fill up on fruits and
Whole Grains on the Rise
The 2005 Dietary Guidelines' recommendation for three servings a day of
whole grains has led to an explosion of new products on supermarket
Manufacturers have launched new whole-grain breads, crackers, pasta, and
cereals. General Mills has reformulated all its cereals to include whole
grains, Wonder Bread has developed whole-grain flours that look and taste like
refined flours, and pasta makers are scrambling to make good-tasting
whole-grain blended pastas.
But what exactly are whole grains, and what can they do for you?
Whole grains contain the entire kernel of the grain, which includes
antioxidants and fiber that can protect against heart disease and reduce the
risk of breast and colon cancer, says Tallmadge. Dietitians note that people
who eat plenty of whole grains also tend to be leaner and have a reduced risk
of heart disease.
It may soon get easier to identify whole-grain products. If the FDA responds
to an industry request, icons will appear on packages of products made from
whole-grain sources. In the meantime, read the label and look for the word
"whole" before whatever type of grain was used in the product. Terms
like "seven-grain" and "100% wheat" don't necessarily mean it's
a whole-grain product.
And with the new recommendations to get five to nine servings of fruits and
vegetables a day, could Mom's urgings to eat our fruits and veggies finally be
"Stroll down the frozen or canned aisles to witness the explosion of
fruits and vegetables that include seasonings and upscale sauces," says