Hi, I am Patricia Setzer, The Health & Fitness Sleuth. I help you to live a longer, happier and healthier life without depriving yourself of great tasting food.
To purchase foods that save you time in the kitchen and provide your family with quality nutrition.
To sell you their products. A company’s marketing department often designs the front of a label using buzz words like fat-free, sugar-free, or whole grain to entice you.
Your mission to buy nutritious food and the manufacturer’s mission to sell you their product sometime presents a conflict of interest.
Eating healthy does not require a formal degree in nutrition, but it does require that you ignore the hype on the front label and actually read the list of ingredients on the back of the package. It is not legal for manufacturers to lie, but it is acceptable for them to mislead you and they often do; a healthy sounding word or phrase placed stratgically on the package gives the impression that this food fits in to your healthy eating plan when it may not.
Example: “Made with real fruit or fruit juice” – The FDA does not require companies to list the amount of fruit or fruit juice used; if there is so much as one blueberry or drop of juice in the food it is legal to make a claim that the food is made with real fruit or contains fruit juice.
Structure-Function Claims versus Health claims
A “Structure-Function Claim” is simply a statement that refers to the benefits of a nutrient’s purpose in your body; the nutrient may or may not be in the product.
Example: Kellogg’s “Live Bright” Bars
In the upper right hand corner you will see DHA Omega-3. Under the name of the bar, Live Bright, is written brain health bar.
Several studies have shown that eating omega-3 fatty acids may prevent memory loss; placing DHA Omega-3 and brain health bar on the front label suggest that eating this bar will improve the health of your brain. The FDA does not require that Kellogg’s prove that Live Bright Bars contains omega-3s or that it is good for your brain.
Had Kellogg’s used the statement on the package, “Eating Live Bright Bars will improve the health of your brain“, this statement would be considered a health claim and the FDA would require proof.
Fat-Free, Sugar-Free, and Cholesterol Free are classic examples. Manufactures are required to list how much fat, sugar, or cholesterol per serving. A serving may be only one cookie.
It is legal to label a product “Free” as long as there is 1/2 gram or less of sugar, fat, or cholesterol per serving. This means you might be eating several grams of any or all of these ingredients thinking you are eating a healthy food.
Example: Cool Whip Free – serving 2 tblsps.
The nutrition facts on back of container state that there is 0 fat and cholesterol, even though the second ingredient is hydrogenated vegetable oil (transfat).
It is fact that cool whip free does not contain cholesterol, but eating foods containing hydrogenated vegetable oil raises your LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) in your body. The FDA allows a fat free claim on any food with a half gram or less of fat per serving.
Nutrition Facts Numbers
A healthy diet is a balanced diet of proteins, fats, carbs, vitamins, and minerals, but just reading the nutrition fact numbers is not enough. The numbers you see on a package are base on a 2000 calorie a day diet – period; a one-size fits all diet plan.
Your age, gender, activity level, and state of health determines the amount of calories, fat, protein, carbs, vitamins, and minerals you need in a day.
The right supplements can ensure that you maintain a strong immune system, but it is not as simple as taking a one-a-day vitamin.
- Some supplements and drugs can interact – Vitamin E and garlic may interact with blood thinners.
- Are you under a lot of stress?
- Do you live in a small town or large city?
- How is your diet? supplements enhance a healthy diet but will not replace vitamins lost when eating a bad diet.
- Age: At age 80 your body will not absorb vitamins and minerals as well as it will at age 20.
Weight Loss Supplements and Fad Diets
You have heard the old saying “If it sounds too good to be true it usually is”; this is a great description of the weight loss supplements and fad diets. Yes, it is true that you often see immediate results, but at what price?
Once off the diet you gain back all the weight you lost plus a few extra pounds.
Cutting out whole food groups also cuts out necessary vitamins and minerals.
Weight Loss Supplements
Contain stimulants like bitter orange and caffeine; these ingredients not only may speed up your metabolism but will increase your heart and elevate your blood pressure.