You see big promises on lots of packaged foods: “heart healthy,” “reduces cholesterol,” “supports immunity and digestive health,” and on and on. But can you trust those promises? We wanted to know, so for our September issue, we asked a health reporter to investigate. What we learned: some claims actually mean something but many aren’t as clear as they sound.
For example, quite a few breakfast items claim they’ll help you control your weight. Quaker even has a “weight control” oatmeal. Post Great Grains Protein cereal says on the box that it “helps maintain a healthy metabolism.” But in tiny type it also says “Not a weight-loss product.” Both contain protein, and it’s true that’s more filling that fats or carbs. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll eat less—or lose weight.
Also, Cherry 7Up and Raisinettes packages both say “antioxidants” in big letters. Antioxidants can boost your immune system, sure, but let’s face it, you’re not going to get healthy by drinking soda and eating candy!
There are a few claims you can count on; these are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration:
- Calorie free
- Fat free
- Sugar free
- Good source of
- High in...
- Low calorie
- Low cholesterol
- Low sodium
For other tricky food labels you may want to avoid, check out the full article in the September issue of ShopSmart. And comment below if there’s a label you find particularly confusing; maybe we’ll look into it for a future story.