Not as healthy as you may think

“Low in sodium,” “calorie-reduced,”
“reduced-fat,” “trans fat free” and “light” are regulated claims that point to
products that can help you follow a healthy diet. 

Some products, however, by their
very names, can mislead you into thinking you are making a healthy choice when
the nutrition facts and ingredient list imply otherwise. 

To get the whole story, it is
important to read the fine print and look beyond the front label by checking
out the nutrition facts box and ingredient list.

Here are three common food items
that are healthy-sounding and not as healthy as you think:

1. Spinach Tortillas: The bright
green colour of a spinach tortilla can make you think of a bunch of fresh
spinach.  I’m afraid a spinach wrap isn’t
going to boost your vegetable intake, though.

If you read the ingredient list you
will see that spinach powder – the ingredient responsible for this wrap’s green
hue – is a scant ingredient. Although whole-grain spinach wraps are available,
most brands list white flour as the first ingredient.

Your best bet is to buy 100 per
cent whole-grain tortillas and add fresh spinach leaves to get your vegetable
and antioxidant boost.

2. Sun-maid Yogurt Raisins: How
could fruit covered with yogurt be an unhealthy snack? Despite how the package
reads, you won’t find any real yogurt in the “creamy real vanilla yogurt
coating.” Besides the fact that sugar tops the ingredient list, partially
hydrogenated oil – a source of trans fat – is also part of this product’s
make-up, followed by nonfat yogurt powder.

Your best bet is to buy plain,
all-natural raisins.

3. Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Bars: The
name of this cereal bar implies it is a healthy, nutrient packed snack. The
claim “8 grams of whole-grains” also suggests it may contain fibre, and the
picture on the box suggests it is filled with real fruit. So how can you not
feel good about eating this “healthy” snack? 

If you read the ingredient list you
will see that the main ingredient is white flour, followed by whole oats, and
then sugar. Fruit puree concentrate is what makes up the “real fruit filling”
but you will find this ingredient listed after sugar, telling me that there is
more sugar than actual fruit in this product. 

For more whole-grain, fibre, and
less sugar, you may be better off with Kellogg’s Fiber Plus bars, or even
looking to other brands like Kashi which make their cereal bars from 100 per
cent whole-grains.

The bottom line is: never judge a
food product by its packaging. Take a second or two to look at the ingredient
list and nutrition facts – you may be surprised what you find out!

Hill is a registered nutritionist (RNutr)


Read nutrition labels to make sure you’re really buying healthy foods.
Photo: File