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‘Healthy’ foods may be anything but

woman carrying shopping basket If you’re carefully reading food labels to make sure they say no-fat, low-fat, no-sugar or reduced-salt because you think they’re healthier options, think again. According to researchers from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, “these claims rarely reflect the actual nutritional quality of the food.”

Scientists analyzed more than 80 million food and beverage purchases from more than 40,000 households over a period of four years. They found that many products with reduced-content labeling were less nutritious than regular foods and beverages. One example cited was low-fat chocolate milk. While lower in fat, it’s actually higher in sugar compared with plain milk, and it’s higher in sugar and fat compared with many other beverages.

If you’re looking for healthy food options, steer clear of highly processed foods such as prepared meals, frozen pizza, bottled salad dressings, deli meats, canned soups, packaged cookies, potato chips and other snack foods, soda and soft drinks. These items are typically found in your grocer’s center aisles.

Instead, shop the perimeter of the store. Choose colorful, fresh fruits and vegetables, plain low- or nonfat dairy products, whole grains such as brown rice, 100 percent whole-wheat bread, plain oatmeal
and lean sources of protein. Visit farmers markets this
summer for fresh, locally grown produce.