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Tricky Food Labels

Even though I try to avoid the middle aisles in the grocery store and I urge patients to do the same, sometimes a person just has to have a cracker. I'm a sucker for Wheat Thins and Triscuits. But I always read the labels and put it back if it contains excess sugar or saturated fat. Check this out! (you may have to zoom in to read these nutrition facts)

You may think that the "reduced fat" as a better health choice. But notice that reduced fat has 3% saturate fat. They reduced the total fat by 1.5g from the original box and somehow added 3% saturated fat. There is nothing wrong with dietary fat and fats are needed for some vitamin absorption, cellular function and energy. Good fats are monounsaturated. Industrial made fats are trans fats and they are extremely bad for your health and there is no nutritional value in them. Saturated fats are somewhere in between and should be avoided if possible. So why does the "reduced fat" contain saturated fats?

A person might look quickly at these two labels and see that there are 20 calories saved in the reduced fat box and less total fat. But they have to look hard to figure out that they would be eating more "bad" fat and the sugar content is the same. (Many times low fat items have even higher sugar content).

One more item to focus on in these food labels is the fiber. Both crackers provide 11% dietary fiber and that is good. We should all be eating more fiber from vegetables, fruits and whole grains as a prevention against heart attacks, diabetes and strokes. On average Americans eat about 10-15g a day, far short of the 25g for women and 38g for men that is recommended.

The high fiber in Wheat Thins is a big plus if you are looking for a cracker. The sugar and canola oil noted in the ingredients, not so much. The marketing for the reduced fat box is meant to fool people into thinking they are making a better choice. Don't fall for it.


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