The Truth Behind Healthy Supermarket Foods

The Wall Street Journal takes a good look at items marketed as “healthier for you” on supermarket shelves, and as you can probably imagine, any actual health benefits vary greatly from product to product. Take all natural chicken, for example: if you buy “enhanced” or “plumped” chicken—it will say somewhere on the label that water, salt, and/or carrageenan has been added, but it will still be labeled natural—the sodium per 4 oz serving jumps from 45-60 mgs to 200-400 mgs.

Another problem category is anything with fiber added to it:

In many cases, the added fiber comes from purified powders, not the kind of fiber found in whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruits. The latter have been shown to lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease and may cut the risk of colon cancer. But there isn’t much evidence that “isolated” fibers like inulin, maltodextrin, oat fiber and polydextrose have the same effect, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit consumer-advocacy group. The Nutrition Facts label doesn’t differentiate between the kind of fiber counted, so check the ingredients.

“The added fiber is probably better than nothing, but it’s not as good as fiber from natural sources like fruits, vegetables and whole grains,” says CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson.

“The Fine Print: What’s Really in a Lot of ‘Healthy’ Foods” [Wall Street Journal]
(Photo: rick)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.