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January 6, 2012 at 6:06 PMComments: 9 Faves: 0

5 "Health" Food Secrets Corporations Don't Want You To Know!

By Jessica Corwin MPH RDN More Blogs by This Author

I was just reading yet another interesting article by Dr. David Katz and I could not resist passing this along.

As a public health professional and registered dietitian, I fell in love with the world of nutrition because of all the ways we can support the health of ourselves and our families, diet is the safest and most enjoyable. I also love the science food and nutrition and watching as it is constantly evolving - new information on foods that may help fight cancer and others that help to control our cholesterol levels.

And yet, I see first-hand how confusing the world of food and nutrition can be. Even I can find myself standing in the grocery store aisle perplexed as to what food choice is the 'right' food choice!

It's not always as straightforward as it may seem and to that end, David Katz, M.D. did an excellent job of explaining why in a recent article on the Huffington Post. I encourage you all to take a look at this politically heated discussion, though if you're not interested at least check out the brief highlight below.

Here you will find five of my favorite points Katz makes in his article: five "health" food secrets corporations don't want you to know!

#1. "No Trans Fat" doesn't REALLY mean zero trans fat.

U.S. regulations only require that foods with the label "No Trans Fat" have less than half a gram per serving - and many people eat far more than what the company considers one serving.

#2. Pasta sauce contains more added sugar than ice cream topping!

Just one cup of tomato sauce can contain SIX teaspoons of sugar. 100 of a sauce's calories come from pure sugar alone - and I haven't even mentioned the carb heavy pasta underneath!

#3. Breakfast cereals can pack more salt than potato chips!

Studies have shown that 35% of our salt intake actually comes from cereal!

#4. "Multigrain" DOESN'T mean "whole grain."

While the term "whole grain" means the grains were use intact providing greater nutritional value and fiber, "multigrain" simply means more than one type of grain was used.

#5. "Reduced Fat" does NOT mean more nutritious - rather more sugar.

Too often, "reduced fat" foods actually end up being WORSE for you than the "original" version! Corporations attempt to make up for lost flavor by adding more salt and sugar. Unfortunately, haven't seen one advertise THOSE recipe changes on their packaging. ;)

Now - I am quite curious to hear YOUR take on his article!

Are you already familiar with all five of these points? If not, which areas seem to be the most confusing? Perhaps an area for greater discussion in this blog going forward...

Photo Credit: rocketlass, bbukry, culpfiction, helixblue, {-Maria-}, theimpulsebuy, Chapendra

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  • doesn't the fda allow like under 1 gram per serving of trans fat count as "zero"? Thats sorta lying.....

  • Dayton you are nearly spot on. If a product contains 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving or less the manufacturer is able to claim it is free of trans fat. However this can be very tricky as many people choose to eat multiple servings rather than just one, allowing for the trans fats to quickly multiply into an amount that our body does not need (the goal is to avoid trans fats completely).

    A quick and easy way to tell if the product does actually contain trans fat is to read the ingredient list. Look for the term 'partially hydrogenated oils' and if you find it, you will know there truly is trans fats inside.

  • 1. Knew about the < 0.5 = 0 game.
    2. Suspected the pasta sauce sugar issue.
    3. I guess I'm having potato chips for breakfast tomorrow. :)
    4. Yeah, what a joke. Multiple refined grains is what they should have to say.
    5. Ridiculous.

  • 1. Didn't know that. Wow.
    2. I can't believe pasta sauce has more sugar than ice cream! That's crazy. I guess when I ate pasta for dinner and then ice cream for dessert the other day I had a LOT of sugar. :/
    3. I've suspected cereal to have a lot of salt. It seems like most cereals aren't too healthy for you.
    4. didn't know the difference between whole grain and multigrain. Now I do! Thanks, Jessica! :)
    5. Wow that's gross, I better tell everyone I know that so they don't buy the "reduced fat" version.

  • is trans fat worse than saturated fat? I dont even know what they are!! so do all these fats make up the 'total fat' on a package?? then wuts all the other fat!? AHH! PANIC!

  • It's so disheartening to read more and more news like this. It's more difficult than ever to make informed decisions on what to eat.

  • Thanks for all of your feedback! I can certainly feel your frustration, John. How can I help?

    Dayton, trans fat is most often man made and is not needed by our bodies for anything at all. In fact, it raises our bad cholesterol and lowers our good cholesterol - therefore we are advised to avoid it as much as we can. Saturated fat is the other bad fat out there, though it is not quite as bad as trans fat because while it also raises our bad cholesterol it will not impact our good cholesterol levels. Check out this site for my favorite explanation:

    Bri, as for the reduced fat - it is definitely better than the fat-free versions. Therefore if your friends are deciding between those two I do recommend the reduced-fat. Of course the best option would simply be to opt for oil and vinegar or create your own homemade dressing using olive oil, canola oil, or safflower oil.

    As for all of that sugar, this site offers some incredible insight!

  • the one that bothers me the most is the Fat Free, Reduced Fat, 2% etc. and I'm talking about cottage cheese. I read in a diet and exercise book that you still get the protein when you eat cottage cheese but if you eat the fat free you don't get the FAT! I have tried it and it does not taste the same to me maybe even the texture is different. But I read it in a published book so it has to be true, right?!

  • Nancy, it is true that when you choose the fat-free version of any product at the store that you will not be consuming any fat because it has either been removed (as is the case with cottage cheese) or was never there in the first place (as with juice or fruit snacks). This is not always a bad thing if protein or fiber is also found in the food because both of these help to slow down the digestion process, helping to stabilize our blood sugar levels which helps us to feel satisfied for a longer period of time.

    With cottage cheese in particular, as the fat content is removed often the calcium content increases a bit (which is a great thing!), but the sodium content can also increase to help make up for the change in flavor/texture. Fat-free cottage cheese is one I am just fine with personally, though when it comes to other cheeses that I would like to have melt on a quesadilla, pizza, or grilled cheese, the reduced-fat or original version is a tastier option for the "meltability".

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