Food companies don’t just seduce you into eating junk food. They also convince you to buy “health food” that simply isn’t healthy. How do they pull that off? They slap health-oriented buzz words (think: “heart healthy”) onto the front of packages hoping consumers won’t flip over to the nutrition label and learn the real deal. So don't let advertisers fool you. Watch for these labeling tricks and shop smart. (Related: Shop smarter with these easy food swaps)
The Claim: "Real egg product"
The Culprit: Egg Beaters
If it's real, where's the shell? Egg Beaters strips out the yolks (which have healthy fats, vitamins, and largely harmless dietary cholesterol) and doctors the whites with colors, flavors, and vegetable gum. University of Connecticut researchers have found no link between heart disease and the consumption of whole eggs. (Search: Health benefits of eggs)
Smart Pick: For real vitamins and min minerals, stick with actual eggs.
20 Worst Breakfasts
The Claim: "No high-fructose corn syrup"
The Culprit: Post Raisin Bran
Sure, it's free of HFCS—but still contains sugar. That's not a big improvement, says Elisabeth Moore, R.D., L.D.N., a dietitian at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. "All types of sugar need to be limited and consumed in moderation—not just HFCS."
Smart Pick: Cheerios has just 1 gram of sugar per cup, while Post Raisin Bran has 19 grams. Plain Cheerios too plain? Toss in a handful of raisins.
Avoid This Common Food Chemical
The Claim: "Heart healthy"
The Culprit: Mazola corn oil
The label claims that a daily dose of corn oil can help prevent heart disease, but the fine print says it all: "The FDA concludes there is little scientific evidence supporting this claim." In fact, corn oil is especially high in omega-6 fatty acids, which a British Journal of Nutrition study linked with an increased risk of coronary heart disease. (Video: Smart Eating for a Healthy Heart)
Smart Pick: Choose canola oil or olive oil, says Moore. "They have more monounsaturated fats, which may lower bad cholesterol."
Get More Healthy Eating Advice
The Claim: "No MSG"
The Culprit: Swanson Natural Goodness chicken broth
Food companies have figured out that consumers don't want monosodium glutamate in their food. So they use other glutamates with nicer-sounding names, like the autolyzed yeast extract in this Swanson broth, and hydrolyzed protein.
Smart Pick: Imagine Organic Free Range chicken broth contains no enhancers of any kind.