You are what you eat… But what are you eating?

You are what you eat... But what are you eating?

Olivia Cashman, Staff Writer

Walk down any aisle in the grocery store and you will see colorful products scrawled with feel-good phrases such as ai???no trans fat,ai??? ai???natural,ai??? and ai???supports the immune Turn the product over to find a long list of complex ingredients written in a font that is tough to read, and even tougher to understand. Dehydrated cane juice, crystal dextrose or one of the other synonyms for sugar is listed as one of the first ingredients.

ai???The fewer ingredients the better, the less processed the better; simple is best,ai??? said Mr. Bill Lowenberg, adviser of the vegan and vegetarian club.

Foods that are packaged in boxes, cans, or bags usually need to be extensively processed Ai??to be edible. In addition to going through many complex processing steps, such as chemical extraction, bleaching and deodorizing, processed foods often contain additives, artificial flavorings and other chemical ingredients.

Food manufacturers technically are not breaking rules, but the definitions of the claims often mislead consumers. For example, ai???naturalai??? only means the product does not contain synthetic or artificial ingredients. However, it can still be heavily processed as well as contain pesticides, genetically modified ingredients, and high fructose corn syrup.

ai???There is a certification process required for the use of the word ai???organic,ai??i?? but not for ai???natural,ai??i??ai??? said Ms. Heidi Secord, a farmer at Josie Porter Farm in Cherry Valley, PA. ai???Look for the ai???USDA organicai??i?? label on

USDA certified organic foods are grown and processed according to federal guidelines including soil quality, animal raising methods, pest and weed control, and use of additives.

Organic foods do not contain genetically modified ingredients, which have been suspected to cause allergies and have a negative impact on the immune system. Not only do organic foods contain more nutrients, they contain fewer pesticides and tend to be fresher because they avoid using preservatives.

The FDA does not heavily regulate health claims, such as supporting immunity and fighting diseases. Without real evidence, they cannot say a product ai???may help reduce the risk of heart disease,ai??? but they can say that it ai???helps maintain a healthy Thus, through clever wording, food companies can imply disease prevention.

In 2009, Kelloggai??i??s Cocoa Krispies advertised that it supported the immune system because it contained vitamins A, B, C, and E. While a deficiency in those vitamins can affect the function of the immune system, there was no evidence that it could actually improve immunity. Also, the cereal’s main ingredient was sugar — nearly 40%.

Another misconception is fat content. Zero trans fat means there are no unhealthy, man-made fats in that sleeve of crackers, right? Wrong.

If a food product contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, the label can legally claim to be ai???trans fat However, most consumers eat two or three times the amount of the serving size and the trans fats can add up to over a gram of this unhealthy fat.

ai???I see a lot of foods that are high in sugar, like hard candy for example, but they say ai???”Ai??said Shanna, an employee at Earthlight Natural Foods in Stroudsburg. “Hard candy will always be fat free, but if you donai??i??t use the energy from the sugar you consume, your body will store it as

Reading and understanding food labels can be a real challenge, especially when food companies try to disguise the harmful or unhealthy ingredients. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is an addictive, flavor-enhancing additive that can be found in a large percentage of processed foods. Itai??i??s been proven that MSG is linked to fibromyalgia, obesity, increased blood sugar and cholesterol, and even neurological damage.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require manufacturers to label foods ai???MSGai??? unless the ai???added ingredientai??? is 99% pure MSG. Ingredients with the words ai???glutamateai??? or ai???hydrolyzed,ai??? yeast extract, soy protein, and calcium caseinate are just a few aliases used to hide the harmful substance. MSG can even be found in foods that claim to be ai???naturalai??? or ai???

A growing trend among consumers is ai???healthyai??? fruit drinks like V8, Naked Juice, and Bolthouse Farms. These colorful drinks are appealing for their convenience as well as their health claims. However, Naked Juice, owned by Pepsi Co, was recently sued for claiming to be ai???100% All Natural,ai??? while it actually contained synthetic ingredients.

Many drink labels list ai???concentrates,ai??? which is just a fancy way to say that the fruit or vegetable was heated down to syrup, and then had water added back in. The process involves adding in and subtracting chemicals to condense the juice and extend its shelf-life. During the concentration process, fruits and vegetables lose both nutritional value as well as flavor, which is one reason why companies re-add flavoring to make the drink taste fresher.

ai???If you pick up a product and it has a long list of chemical additives, itai??i??s probably not good for you,ai??? said Lowenburg.chart

Eating healthy and attaining more nutrients has endless benefits including reduced risk of heart disease, type two diabetes, developing kidney stones, Ai??obesity, andAi??certain cancers.

ai???Eating a lot of food that has low nutritional value will leave you feeling hungry an hour later,ai??? said Secord. ai???Itai??i??s not about how much you eat, itai??i??s about the nutritional

The more processed a food is, the fewerAi??nutrients it will contain. If half of the ingredients on the list seem like a foreign language, a whole grain sandwich might be the better choice. The best way to know what you are eating is to eat whole foods as much as possible, and donai??i??t fall for the tricks played by deceitful food companies.

Instead of eating an apple toaster pastry, try some applesauce… better yet, eat an apple.