3 Ways to Make Smarter Food Choices
You reach for multigrain bread or cereal.
Foods labeled 7-grain or multigrain may seem like the healthiest choices—especially with new findings showing that a diet rich in whole grains protects against heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses. Unfortunately, many foods are only posing as rich in whole grains. "Take a closer look at the labels and you may find there's not a single whole grain in them," says Cynthia Harriman, director of food and nutrition strategies for the Whole Grains Council, a nonprofit consumer group in Boston.
Smarter Move: Learn the lingo of food claims. Bread that's 100 percent whole grain means just that— it contains no refined flour. Cereal that's made with whole grain may have a little or a lot. To be sure you're getting the grains you want, check the ingredients panel. Whole grains should be the first or second ingredient listed.
Many are bloated with unnecessary calories. The label of one leading brand, for example, reports that it supplies half the daily requirement for some nutrients. But to get that amount, you have to drink the whole bottle, which contains 125 calories. And for that you get just 6 of the 40-plus essential nutrients provided by most supplements.
Smarter Move: Drink plain, refreshing, calorie-free water when you're thirsty—and take a multivitamin daily to make sure you get balanced levels of the essential vitamins and minerals.
Because current law doesn't require labels to specify how much fruit is in the product, manufacturers can brag on packaging that food is made with "real fruit" if it contains only small amounts of fruit juice. "Concentrated white grape juice or pear juice may sound healthy, but all that really means is fruit sugars and water," says Gail Rampersaud, R.D., of the food science and human nutrition department at the University of Florida.
Smarter Move: Treat these snacks as candy, which is what they really are, and eat them sparingly. Satisfy your sweet tooth with real fruit instead.
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