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Nutrition Column

Read food labels - get the whole story

While out shopping for groceries get in the habit of reading food labels - not only the Nutrition Facts chart but also the ingredients list. Manufacturers have ways of hiding what they put into food. And definitely don't look at the misleading claims on the front of the package.

Fats can be listed as reduced-fat if they contain 25 percent less fat than their high-fat partner. Yet they can still contain a significant amount of fat.

Listed as Fat-free if there is less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving. But what is the serving size? Enough for a small taste or bite, with ten being the amount you typically eat.

Labeled as Cholesterol-free is that it contains less than 2 mg. of cholesterol and 2 grams or less of saturated fat and trans fat combined per serving. That is a lot of sat. and trans fat for a serving.

Even more amazing is the deceptive logo of a heart with the words heart healthy and cholesterol-free on vegetable oils which never had cholesterol in them in the first place (cholesterol is found only in foods of animal origin).

As I've said and written previously food manufacturers along with supplement and pharmaceutical companies are in business, and being such, they are primarily in the business to make money - not necessarily motivated to improve your health or function. Some are, many are not.

Labeled as saturated or trans fat-free if there is less than 0.5 gm. per serving. Then the only way to see if there are trans fats in the product is to look at the ingredient list for partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.

Labeled as Low-sodium if the serving contains 140 mg. or less.

A good source of ... if it contains 10 to 19 percent of the daily value (DV) for a particular nutrient in a serving

And high in ... if the food contains 20 percent or more per serving.

Learning to read the entire packaging will help you to avoid eating foods which don't meet your standards. Have fun while your doing it too.

Pretend you are an investigator attempting to debunk claims and deceptive advertising. Make a game of it ... and win by buying only those foods which you determine are good for you and your body.

Written by Dr. Sternlicht for on 3.5.06