When ‘healthy’ isn’t healthy
You probably know this, but food manufacturers don’t always have your best interests in mind when they’re selling you stuff. That’s why they pack sugar into ketchup and salad dressing, salt into soups, and extra chemicals into nearly everything. Arm yourself with these tips the next time you head out for a shop, and you can sidestep the worst foods.
Look for a short ingredient list
When you find a packaged food in the supermarket with a long list of ingredients on the label, just set it back on the shelf and look for a simpler version of the food. (We’re talking here about the ‘Ingredients’ part of the label. Nutrition Facts is another part; more about that later.) The truth is, many of those ingredients are various kinds of sugars and chemical additives, and they’re there to ‘enhance’ the looks, taste, or shelf-life of the food – not your health. While most of these additives aren’t explicitly harmful (although that’s an open question for some of those substances), they also aren’t good for you, either. So check the list of ingredients every time, recommends Dr Marion Nestle. Nestle says that a shorter ingredient list equals fewer added sweeteners and preservatives.
Think twice about ‘no cholesterol’ claims
The natural fat cholesterol occurs only in animal products (meat, fish, eggs, milk, and butter, for instance). So why do some plant-derived products claim in large letters that they contain no cholesterol? Because the food companies know that people care about their cholestersol levels, and they know that most people probably have forgotten or never knew that plants don’t contain any. Some of the offenders are cereal, bread, cookies, salad dressings, and, especially, oils and margarine. Oils are obviously fats, so the makers think you’ll be reassured to see that there’s no cholesterol in the corn oil, safflower oil, or olive oil. Next time you see the claim, just say to yourself, “Duh! It’s a plant product! Of course it doesn’t contain cholesterol.”