Nowadays many people are very conscious of making healthier choices and convenience-food marketers are VERY aware of this. Are these “healthier” choices really better for you than their counterparts, or is it just marketing hype? I did some research and found four examples of items marketed as “health foods” or healthier choices that really may not be healthy options.
1. Beverages with added “stuff.” It’s got “vitamin” on the label so it’s good for you, right? Not necessarily. A brief review of several top brand labels revealed lots of sugar (32 grams for Vitamin Water Power-C, 30 grams for Gatorade Natural Blackberry Raspberry). Low-calorie options abound, but they have artificial flavors and sweeteners. You’re better off taking a good multivitamin once daily and drinking water with a little lemon or lime juice for added flavor.
2. Store-bought or premade smoothies. Even McDonalds is getting into the act! Are the smoothies a better choice than milkshakes, for instance? Well yes, since a large Wild Berry smoothie (22 oz) is 310 calories compared to 820 calories for a vanilla McCafe shake (WOW!). But it still has 67 grams of sugar (!) and artificial flavors. If you’re going to have a smoothie, you’re better off making your own, at home, with fresh fruit and other ingredients that you control yourself.
3. Frozen diet entrees. Many of these entrees are loaded with sodium, preservatives and genetically-modified ingredients. Make sure you look at the nutrition panel. Choose an entree that’s organic if possible. Look for low-sodium options, especially one that has less than one-fifth your daily recommended sodium intake. For instance, if you have high blood pressure you should be taking in less than 2000 mg of sodium daily. That means your frozen lunch entree should have less than 400 mg of sodium. One example is Amy’s Kitchen organic Black Bean Vegetable Enchilada, which has 390 mg sodium and is vegan and organic. (I personally adore Amy’s Kitchen frozen entrees.)
4. Frozen yogurt. The self-serve frozen-yogurt franchises are sprouting up like daisies. They are capitalizing on the idea that frozen yogurt is healthier than ice cream. But is it? A quick online search revealed that Menchie’s Vanilla Snow frozen yogurt is 100 calories per 1/2 cup serving, with 18 grams of sugar. Handel’s vanilla ice cream, on the other hand, contains 181 calories and 19 grams of sugar per 1/2 cup scoop. So yes, frozen yogurt has about half as many calories per serving. However, when was the last time you were in a Menchie’s shop? It’s self-serve so you can get as much as you want. It is VERY easy to serve yourself more than 1/2 cup. You also have access to lots of toppings and sauces and other ways to add calories. Bottom line, if you are careful about serving size and toppings, frozen yogurt IS a better option.
Consumers have to be very careful to read labels and do their research. Just because something says “healthy” on the label does NOT mean it IS healthy. Making healthy dietary choices is super-important in trying to maintain weight and a good energy level.
Question: What have you eaten that, after you ate it, you found had a LOT more calories, sugar, fat, artificial stuff, or other stuff that made you wish you hadn’t eaten it?