Manufacturers will put anything on their packaging to make you buy their product, especially when it makes the product sound like a super healthy choice compared to one of the competitors’ products on the shelf next to it. So when they can claim something, they will. Even if it’s stating something that should really be very obvious.
Misleading claim #1
When a product states that it is ‘cholesterol free’ and it’s stamped all over things like fresh fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and seeds. These foods are naturally cholesterol free anyway. More important for heart health is being aware of how much saturated fat you consume.
Misleading claim #2
Using the word ‘Natural‘. Most people associate this word with healthy and unprocessed foods, yet you find this term on all sorts of heavily processed foods, things like protein bars and fruit juices. The best way of determining whether you want to consume an all natural product, is to have a look at the ingredient list and suss things out for yourself.
Misleading claim #3 and #4
‘Sugar free’ – This is one of my biggest bugbears. There are literally thousands of products and recipes that claim to be sugar free, when they are in fact loaded with sugar. They may not have refined sugar in them, but they are ‘naturally sweetened’ and include sugar such as dates, coconut sugar or agave syrup. Many are claiming these forms of natural sweetener are healthier than the regular ‘ole’ white sugar, but the real truth? Sugar is sugar – it still has calories, it will still cause a blood sugar spike, it still gets digested the same as any other sugar…Check here for The low down on sugar
To ensure you don’t get sucked into this one – learn to look out for the other common words for sugar- there are lots!
Misleading claim #5
Anything Fat free/ low fat/ reduced fat. You often see these claims on muesli bars, cereals diet products and even packets of jelly lollies. Lollies are just about pure sugar and colouring, of course there is no fat in them! As for the other products mentioned, manufacturers often remove the fat from their original product and reformulate it with a truck load of added sugar to ensure the product still tastes good. Low fat does not necessarily make a product superior to another one. For example a muesli that has a lot of nuts and seeds in it is going to have a fairly high fat content. Again, it comes down to looking at the ingredient list and the nutrition panel.
Misleading claim #6
When a manufacturer claims that a new product has ‘X percent less fat’ ‘less carbs’ or ‘less sugar’ than one of its older products. This appeals to consumers as they believe this is going to be the best choice for them on the market. In reality there may be other brands that already offer a similar product that has an equal amount of carb or sugar, or even less. An example of this is a brand that brought out a ‘low carb’ bread recently. When I actually compared the label to another brand of bread that I normally buy, I realised this ‘new improved’ bread had a significantly greater amount of carb than my normal choice! Again, highlighting the importance of reading nutrition labels, and not just the front of pack nutrition claims.
Misleading claim #7
When products make a song and dance about being Gluten Free. Of course for those with Coeliac Disease, there is a definite place for gluten free products – it is essential for the good health of those sufferers. But for everyone else? Not necessary. Many believe that purchasing gluten free products is a superior health choice over the alternative. The truth? Many gluten free products have been heavily processed and contain large amounts of added sugar with a higher energy content, making it a much poorer choice overall. Many of these people don’t even know what they are avoiding – take a look at this clip from Jimmy Kimmel Live.