What Food Labels Don’t Say
A top dietitian gives you the right information.
-Susan Burke March
How many times do you wander the grocery aisles trying to find the healthiest pasta, cereal or bread? Most people who want to eat well know the obvious, like there’s no fruit in Froot Loops. But what about all those nutritious-sounding labels like “whole grain” or “all natural”? Susan Burke March, MS, RD, LD/N, CDE, the author of Making Weight Control Second Nature: Living Thin Naturally, cuts through the confusion.
Natural: When you’re looking for foods that nourish, do you buy items labeled “100% Natural,” “Healthy,” or “No Artificial Ingredients” without actually reading the ingredients? The United States Department of Agriculture says that the “natural” claim means that the food does not contain any artificial ingredients, coloring ingredients, or chemical preservatives, and, in the case of meat and poultry, is minimally processed. But a can of iced tea can read “100% Natural Tea” even though the ingredients include filtered water, high fructose corn syrup and lemon flavoring. That’s not natural to me.
Multi-grain: From breads to crackers to hot and cold cereals, “multi-grain” does not mean whole grain-it means just about nothing at all except that the product contains an undefined amount of different types of grains. What you want to look for is “100% whole grain,” so you’re assured that you’re getting all of the good nutrition (including Vitamin E, magnesium and fiber) from that grain’s kernel. Some
packages distract the consumer by listing impressive amounts of vitamins and minerals, even fiber. Be sure the first ingredient is “100% whole,” either wheat or other another grain.