Food Marketing and how to make food sound healthy for you

Words like gluten-free and whole-grain will bombard anyone entering a grocery store nowadays. The question becomes these products healthy for you? Products like Cherry 7Up carry an antioxidant label that want people to believe that this particular product might not be so bad for you. A recent study conducted at the University of Houston argues that these food labels are misleading.
Assistant Professor Temple Northup says that “words like organic, antioxidant, natural and gluten-free imply some healthy benefit. When people stop to think about it, there’s nothing healthy about Antioxidant Cherry 7-Up – it’s mostly filled with high fructose or sugar. But its name is giving you this clue that there is some health benefit to something that is not healthy at all.”
It’s important to remember just because a product is organic or gluten-free does not magically make it healthy. When shopping at a grocery store I would suggest staying away from processed foods whenever possible. This will help in taking out the guessing game of what’s better for you. I would strongly urge you to avoid foods with any special labeling because usually it means they were processed even more. Things that are fat-free are foods that are processed even more to remove the fat from them. Here are some of the foods or ingredients you should avoid when shopping at the grocery store:
1. Artificial Ingredients – Avoid things like artificial sweeteners like saccharin or aspartame found in diet sodas and other products.
2. Foods that have too many ingredients – Something that has a laundry list of chemicals and additives you have never heard of is usually a red flag to purchase something else.
3. Refined oils – Things like canola oil and shortening.
4. Imitation Foods – Foods like imitation crab meat are things to avoid. A lot of processing has been done on these “mystery foods” to make them look and taste like the real thing. I would avoid them altogether.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, so if you need more help with this you can always call my office for an appointment, and I will be more than happy to help you out with a healthier approach to grocery shopping for you and your family.

Dr. Shah, MD