For better health, pay attention to food labels: Dr. Nina Radcliff | Lifestyles

Dr. Nina Radcliff

Dr. Nina Radcliff

It’s not always easy to know how nutritious a food is based on the packaging or, the latest health claim buzz.

Clever, even misleading, labels and marketing campaigns can make people think certain products are healthy — even when they’re not. Add to this, food labels can be extremely confusing. And certain marketing phrases added to packaging can mislead people to think foods are healthier than they are.

It’s buyer beware as some so-called “health” foods are in fact, not so healthy.

Labeling and terms such as “no cholesterol,” “no trans-fat,” “no added sugar,” “multigrain,” “all natural” and “organic” are examples of phrases that seem to shout “healthy food” from the labels of our favorite brands and foods. However, unhealthy choices lurk among even the most seemingly healthy foods. Many food manufacturers use the front label to tout a product’s most healthy attributes. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always mean the food is a healthy choice.

Here are some items experts have listed with a reputation for fooling folks. If they make their way into your grocery cart on a regular basis, buyer beware:

Fat-free foods. Before choosing that fat-free option, consider this: Removing fat from foods often leaves them tasteless. To return the taste and make it edible, manufacturers may add sugar, salt or artificial flavorings. Once these additives are pumped in, fat-free foods can end-up containing more calories and carbohydrates than their full-fat counterparts. Did you know that fat-free salad dressings can actually hinder your ability to process all the good nutrients in that salad? And the salt uptick is a concern. Check the nutrition labels, and if it’s loaded with sugar, salt or artificial additives — or has more calories than the full-fat version — put it back on the shelf.