Category Archives: whole wheat

10 ways food labels mislead consumers

Day after day we learn more about how misleading food labels continue to dupe consumers with keywords and bold statements that feed into people’s dietary needs and weight loss goals. This doesn’t mean all food labels are lying because plenty of products are “fat free” or made with “real fruit,” but what about the other nutritional facts or ingredients?

Foodfacts.com observes that, unfortunately, the FDA does not regulate all food labels and cannot keep food manufacturers from using clever wording to avoid a potential lawsuit. What you can do is read the nutritional facts and ingredients list to find the truth behind the fancy wording and manipulative marketing. Here are 10 misleading food labels to look out for:

* “Zero grams trans fat”
Since trans fat have become the ultimate no-no in today’s diet, many companies have cut trans fat from their products. However, it has led way to a manipulative marketing move to promote 0 grams of trans fat, without indicating the product’s level of saturated and total fat. Food labels know people are looking for the label that says “0 grams trans fat,” but they may skip over the saturated and total fat amount, which is just as important.

* “All natural”
The “all natural” stamp is one of the most abused and misleading food labels used by food manufacturers today. Many of these so-called “all natural” products use citric acid, high-fructose corn syrup and other unnatural additives, but still get to bear that positive label. Always check the ingredients list to know exactly what’s in your food.

* “Whole grains”
Chances are you’ve seen the label, “Made with Whole Grains,” pop up on bread, crackers or rice products now more than ever. The reality is that many of these whole grain products are actually made with refined wheat flour and maybe a small percentage of whole grains. In order to check the validity of the whole grains label, check out the listed ingredients. Unless “whole grains” is one of the first ingredients on the list or if you see “enriched wheat flour,” it’s likely that your product contains a small percentage of whole grains.

* “Fiber”
Food products that contain fiber has become a growing trend in the food industry because consumers are looking for foods that are going to keep them fuller for longer, help regulate their digestive systems and lower their blood sugar. Shoppers might see their favorite cereal bar or yogurt is labeled “a good source of fiber,” but they won’t see where the fiber comes from listed anywhere. Many of the products you find with the label “contains fiber” actually contain isolated fibers, like inulin, maltodextrin, pectin, gum and other purified powders that are added to boost the not-so-fibrous foods.

* “Light”
When a food label says “light” as in “extra light olive oil,” consumers are misled to think that a product is light in fat or the fat content has been cut in half. Unless the product says reduced fat, “light” is generally referring to a lighter color of the original product, such as light-colored olive oil.

* “Heart healthy”
Many of today’s foods claim to be “heart healthy,” but don’t have FDA approval or scientific evidence to support such bold claims. These types of “heart healthy” labels mislead consumers into thinking they will improve their heart health by eating this particular food. Considering that heart disease is the number one killer in America, this food label is dangerous to promote if it’s not true.

* “Low fat”
The label “low fat” can be very misleading to consumers because, while it may be low in fat, it may also be loaded with sugar or sodium that won’t be highlighted. In addition, manufacturers are playing into people’s awareness of fats and efforts to lower their fat intake by advertising exactly what they’re looking for. Don’t be fooled by a “low fat” food label without examining the rest of the nutrition facts, and making sure that the product is well-balanced and healthy in its other areas.

* “Low sugar”
Just like “low fat” indicators, “low sugar” food labels are misleading for consumers because it plays up one nutritional factor to downplay a not-so-healthy factor, such as a high amount of calories, sugars or fat. Manufacturers also get around saying “contains sugar” by saying “lightly sweetened” or “no sugar added,” but you have to look at how much sugar is in each serving to know for sure.

* “Free range”
The “free range” food label can be found on meat, dairy and eggs at your local grocery store, but this progressive way of farming is not always as it seems. What consumers may not know and won’t see on their “free range” foods is that the USDA regulations only apply to poultry. Therefore, “free range” beef, pork and other non-poultry animals were fed grass and allowed to live outdoors, but their products are not regulated by the USDA. Another misconception consumers have about “free range” is that these products are also organic. Unless it’s labeled free range AND organic, free range animals may be fed nonorganic fed that could contain animal byproducts and hormones.

* “Fresh”
The “fresh” food label can be very misleading to consumers, by making them think their chicken was killed the day before, or their “freshly squeezed” orange juice was prepared that day. The label “fresh” simply means that it was not frozen or is uncooked, but many of these products are allowed to be chilled, kept on ice or in modified atmospheres to keep them from spoiling.

Foodfacts.com does not endorse specific views about nutrition or exercise, but presents interesting news and information worth reading about. As always, consult a physician or nutrition professional before making any major changes to your diet. Be sure to SCORE your foods so that you’re empowered to make good food choices. The Food Facts Health Score is FREE to use with your free membership at Foodfacts.com.

5 Healthy Snacks that will give you energy

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Some snacks enhance energy levels, while others leave us feeling depleted. The key to choosing a satisfying snack that will give you energy to burn is understanding how certain foods fuel energy.

Not all calories are equal. High-calorie processed foods can certainly provide a quick boost, but the result is fleeting and inevitably followed by a low period when blood sugar plummets. Energy-efficient snacks, on the other hand, balance high-quality calories with the nutrients needed to convert calories into enduring energy.

If that’s not enough to appeal to your appetite, consider this: Increased energy naturally improves your mood. Try these five energy-enhancing snacks for a happy high.

1. Almonds
Almonds are packed with a potent combination of energy-enriching nutrients, including manganese, vitamin E, magnesium, tryptophan, copper, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and phosphorus. Magnesium has been called a miracle mineral because of its multifunctional capabilities: In addition to being an essential part of more than 300 biological processes, magnesium aids in the production of energy, supports the immune system, improves sleep patterns, relaxes muscles, relieves stress and anxiety, and boosts mood.

The protein and fiber in almonds stabilizes blood sugar and slows digestion, which helps regulate energy, so you have steady reserves over time. Healthy fats like the kind found in almonds have been found to curb appetite and prevent overeating that can result in weight gain and its accompanying feelings of fatigue. The fat and fiber in almonds also contribute a feeling of satiety that helps prevent mindless snacking. For these reasons, almonds and other nuts are frequently recommended as part of a healthy diet for people looking to lose weight.

Rev it up: Spread almond butter on whole-grain crackers, or combine a handful of raw almonds with unsweetened dried fruit for a satisfying snack full of fiber and protein.

yogurt

2. Yogurt
Yogurt is full of calcium, phosphorus, protein, tryptophan, molybdenum, and zinc. It’s also a great source of vitamins B2 (riboflavin), B5 (pantothenic acid), and B12 (cobalamin). Thanks to its liquid-like state, the nutrients in yogurt are assimilated quickly and easily during digestion, which means you get an immediate boost of energy. Yogurt’s high protein content means that energy also has staying power.

Protein-rich snacks like yogurt can even pump up your probability for ditching the pounds. Since protein takes time to digest, you’ll feel satisfied for longer — which means less snacking and fewer calorie splurges throughout the day.

Yogurt also supplies the brain with tyrosine, an amino acid that boosts blood levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, resulting in a mood and mental boost. In a number of studies, tyrosine has also been effective at fighting fatigue.

Rev it up: Control your sugar intake by opting for unsweetened yogurt, and up the energy ante by adding chopped walnuts or ground flaxseed — both will add protein and omega-3 fatty acids for extended energy. Sweeten to taste with a drizzle of raw honey or pure maple syrup.

pineapple

3. Pineapple
Pineapple is one of summer’s most popular fruits simply because it’s so delicious. But if you want more reasons, look no further: A rich source of manganese, vitamin C, vitamin B1 (thiamin), copper, fiber, and vitamin B6, this juicy fruit is a super snack for fueling energy.

Thanks to high levels of naturally occurring sugar (fructose), dietary fiber, and water, fresh pineapple is nature’s equivalent of a kick in the pants. The carbohydrate-rich fructose breaks down quickly for an immediate energy boost, while the fiber slows digestion for long-lasting results. Pineapple’s energy-extending capabilities don’t stop there: Manganese and thiamin are both essential in energy production and help metabolize carbohydrates. And the vitamin B6 in pineapple plays a part in converting tryptophan into serotonin in the brain for a natural mood booster.

In terms of energy, digestion is one of the costliest bodily functions. The good news: Pineapple contains bromelain, which contains a number of enzymes that help improve digestion. In addition, eating fluid-filled foods like pineapple can help prevent dehydration, one of the most common culprits of zapped energy. Water is necessary for every bodily function, including converting calories into energy, and even a slight dip in fluids leads to physical and mental fatigue.

Rev it up: Pair pineapple with protein-rich yogurt or nonfat cottage cheese. The combination of carbs and protein is ideal for stable and enduring energy.

A wheat field with blue sky background

4. Whole wheat snacks
Whole grains — especially whole wheat — are full of essential nutrients that energize both body and brain, including fiber; manganese; magnesium; iron; protein; carbohydrates; and vitamins B1, B2, and B3. Whole wheat is loaded with energizing B vitamins, which fight fatigue, maintain energy levels, stabilize blood sugar, improve sleep patterns, coordinate nerve and muscle activity, and boost mood.

Simple carbs like white bread and sweets provide a quick surge of energy, but the results are temporary. What’s more, the energy comes courtesy of a spike in blood sugar; once that subsides, you’ll feel depleted and fatigued. The complex carbohydrates in whole wheat, however, are absorbed more slowly, which translates into stable blood sugar levels for hours at a time and gradual, lasting energy.

Carbs are also full of tryptophan, the amino acid precursor to the feel-good chemical serotonin produced in the brain. Too much tryptophan can trigger a spike in serotonin that leads to drowsiness, though, so the key is to pick healthy carbohydrates such as whole grain toast, which is full of fiber, to slow digestion and regulate the flow of serotonin. That way, you’ll get a happy mood boost without the drowsiness.

Rev it up: Combining whole grains with protein is a classic energy-extending combination. Try whole-wheat crackers dipped in low-fat cottage cheese, or top whole wheat toast with your favorite sugar-free nut butter.

edamame

5. Edamame
Edamame, or boiled soybeans, are a great pick-me-up because they’re easy to make, easy to transport, and fun to eat right out of the shell. Soybeans are full of nutrients that contribute directly to a boost in energy as well as mood.

A single cup of edamame provides 116 percent of the recommended daily amount of tryptophan, which helps regulate appetite, enhance sleep, and improve mood — three factors that play a significant role in affecting energy levels. In the same serving, you’ll get 57 percent of the recommended amount of protein, 43 percent of your daily omega-3 fatty acids, 41 percent of fiber, and 49 percent of your daily iron — all important contributors to sustained energy.

Soybeans are also super-rich in molybdenum, an essential trace mineral that helps cells function properly, facilitates the use of iron reserves, aids in metabolizing fat and carbohydrates, enhances alertness, improves concentration, and helps balance blood sugar levels. All of these functions are crucially linked to the production and sustainability of energy. Molybdenum also helps prevent anemia, a common culprit of iron-deficiency-related fatigue.

Plus, soybeans are packed with folate, a natural mood booster that’s been shown to increase serotonin levels and improve symptoms of depression.

Rev it up: Combine half a cup of soybeans with equal parts shredded carrots, presoaked sea vegetables such as hijiki or wakame (two types of seaweed), and a tablespoon of rice wine vinegar for a savvy salad loaded with protein, fiber, minerals, and antioxidants. Optional: Top with a sprinkling of black sesame seeds.