If a food has to tell you it’s healthy, it probably isn’t healthy.
When shopping for healthy foods, it’s easy to be seduced by health claims and nutrient claims on food packages. Claims such as “low fat”, “contains 90 calories” or “high in fiber” are what the FDA calls nutrient content claims (1). The FDA regulates these claims in an attempt to prevent manufacturers from misleading consumers, yet nutrient claims and other packaging terms can be very deceptive.
Let’s take a look at the terms used on Fruit & Grain Cereal Bars.
This product is selling health with the terms:
In addition, there are pictures of whole blueberries on the product cover and a whole wheat plant. Both imply whole food and health.
This is classic nutritional doublethink because it’s easy to look at the cookie-like bar with a jelly filling and know, intuitively, that this is not a healthy food. In addition, for a food to be considered a good source of fiber, it needs to have at least 2.5 grams of fiber per serving (2). This product has 2 grams of fiber per serving, which means it is not a good source of fiber.
The very first ingredient is high fructose corn syrup. There are 56 other ingredients in this product. Let’s take a look at the first seven ingredients in the filling,
If we follow Michael Pollan’s Food Rules (3), products like this violate rules 4, 5 and 6.
#4: Avoid food products that contain high fructose corn syrup
A whole food doesn’t need to tell you it’s healthy. A whole food won’t make any nutrient claims or health claims. With every step of processing, a food loses nutrients and gains food additives.
Be skeptical of food products trying to sell health.
Christine Dobrowolski is a nutritionist and whole-foods advocate.