The best advertising campaigns are ones that go unnoticed. They become so ingrained in society that they slip right under our nose and create a mainstream movement. As a result it requires us to investigate and dissect out what is what. In others words: to become knowledgeable.
Dr. Nina’s What You Need to Know: About Some Not-So-Healthy “Health” Foods
- Fat-free foods. Let’s face it, the label is appealing. After all, who wants something filled with fat? But before you choose that fat-free option, consider this: Removing fat from foods often leaves them pretty tasteless, literally. To return the taste and make it edible, manufacturers may add sugar or salt. Sugar is converted into fat and can be stored in our bodies like other fats until it is burned off as energy. And we know that salt is responsible for 1 in every 10 deaths in the United States. Make sure to check the nutrition labels and consider all aspects of nutrition: calories, sodium, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
- Energy bars. Cleverly named, we have come to accept them as healthy meals that give us a boost, while on the move. However, some energy bars are full of high fructose corn syrup, added sugar, saturated fats, and very little fiber. Again, look at the nutrition label to determine the best choice for you. And opt for bars whose protein comes from soy, milk, whey or egg as opposed to collagen or gelatin, and fat calories less than 30 percent of the total calories.
- Breakfast cereals. We would never condone having our children eat ice cream or cookies for breakfast. But did you know that a bowl of kid’s cereal has MORE sugar than ice cream by weight and is equal to 3 chips Ahoy cookies? We are literally and figuratively feeding our children sugar laden dessrt. Fortunately, there are healthy breakfast cereal choices on the market. Make sure to look at the labels and opt for choices that have less than 5 grams of added sugar per bowl.
- Energy drinks. A young high school athlete recently died from a cardiac arrest while vacationing in Mexico because she drank too many cans of an energy drink. While the labels claim to boost energy, endurance, and performance, these drinks are loaded with mega-doses of caffeine which can increase our heart rate, blood pressure, and stimulate our central nervous system. Additionally, these drinks have been shown to increase the occurrence of headaches and migraines, insomnia, diabetes, risky behavior, nervousness, and vomiting. They can also be addicting.
- Flavored yogurts. Yogurts are touted as a healthy food. But be careful when it comes to flavored yogurts which can contain up to 15 grams of sugar in those tiny cups! Many times there is no fruit and the flavor comes from sugars, artificial fruit flavors, or pureed fruit that is loaded with sugar. A great alternative is to choose plain yogurt and add fresh fruit.
- Frozen yogurt. I have read that frozen yogurt is not an alternative to low fat yogurt, but an alternative to ice cream. The definition of yogurt is that it needs to be curdled milk and cultures. However, some frozen yogurts include multiple hard to pronounce additives: guar gum, maltodextrin, sodium citrate, cellulose gum, disodium phosphate, and propylene glycol monoesters. In fact, propylene glycol is used to dissolve medications into a water solution (e.g., propofol, an anesthetic agent). While it may be a healthier dessert than ice cream, make sure to keep serving sizes small and minimize unhealthy toppings.
Marketing gimmicks are clever. And the burden falls on us to wade through the waters especially when it can become a little murky. The Surgeon General states that “People are empowered when they have the knowledge, ability, resources, and motivation to identify and make healthy choices. When people are empowered, they are able to take an active role in improving their health, support their families and friends in making healthy choices, and lead community change.” Let’s live wise, healthy and empowered!
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Notice: This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither Dr. Nina Radcliff or Kimberly Cecchini take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.
Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies. Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness.