half opened granola bar in a pink wrapper on a pink background

A Closer Look: Health Foods

Rule number 1: Don’t get confused with what’s on the front of the label. The front of packaging is for the brand to guide you into what they want you to think of a food. Instead, check the back of packaging, get the real facts, and form your own opinion. I challenge you to this – take a closer look at those health foods!

Here are some products that may seem like they’re health foods, but you may want to consider taking a deeper look and shopping around for the right brand.

Granola Bars

Protein and granola bars may seem like a quick bite to eat packed with nutrients. However, many ingredients can hide in these bars. Granola bars in particular have a lot of sugars and syrups to bind them together. The sugar can go by the name of cane syrup, brown rice syrup, tapioca syrup and many more. When choosing a granola bar, focus on increasing the protein and decreasing the amount of added sugars. Sugar is short term energy. Protein will give you energy for the long haul of your busy day!

Veggie Chips

First, don’t let the name fool you! With ‘veggies’ being part of the product name, it’s easy to assume there is a higher amount of vegetables in the bag. The chips are not completely made of vegetables and are usually only made with mostly potato and a smaller percentage of non-potato veggies. If a shopper just compares the calories, the chips can be deceiving. With fewer calories, they seem like the better choice, yet veggie chips may contain higher levels of sodium and carbohydrates. Instead of choosing veggie chips, maybe try sticking to your favorite chip and just working on portion control and the timing of your snack.

Sweetened Oatmeal

Oatmeal is rich in nutrients as well as containing more protein and fat than other grains. Oats are also a great source of fiber to help your digestive system. Oatmeal is very filling and can help those who are trying to lose weight. It is easy to assume all oatmeal packages are the best choice for breakfast. However, many brands may already have sugar added. It is better to buy plain oats and add your own toppings in moderation. This will save you money and give you much better flavor. Add a topping of protein to compliment your oats like nut butter or Greek yogurt and really give them a nutritional boost!

Diet Soda

Most diet sodas use aspartame, cyclamate, saccharin, and sucralose to add sweetness without adding calories and nutrients to your body. Diet Coke contains no calories, sugar, or fat but has 40g of sodium. Studies have found diet soda drinkers have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. One serving of a diet soft drink a day lead to 8-13% higher risk of the disease. With the high phosphorus content of soft drinks, they have also been inversely correlated to our kidney health. If you are trying to avoid drinking soft drinks but love the carbonation, try sparkling/carbonated water! There are so many great brands to try. (My favorite: Spindrift – made with real fruits for better flavor and nutrition.)

In conclusion, be a conscious consumer and make your own decisions about health foods and all foods – based on only the facts…not the branding.

In Good Health,

Lindsey Hudsmith, RDN

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