Healthy Food Imposter: Crystal Light
Oh my Gawd!!!
It's the phrase we uttered most during our recent BestBrands shopping spree. Yes, your trusted food sleuths were regularly freaked out by the plethora of Healthy Food Imposters they found lurking on grocery store shelves from coast to coast.
With so many foods and drinks trying to pass themselves off as "healthy," we decided it might be insightful - not to mention fun - incorporating "The Healthy Food Imposter of the Month" award into our regular lineup. In order to be eligible for this award, a product must meet the following criteria:
Criteria #1: Extremely misleading information on the front label
Criteria #2: Three or more harmful junk ingredients
Criteria #3: Deceptive health claims (blatant or implied)
Criteria #4: A high shock value… the OMG response, if you will!
Our first recipient of this infamous award goes to (the envelope please)...
Crystal Light Immunity On The Go
Serving: 5 calories, 0g fat, 10mg sodium, 1g carbs, 0% vitamin A, 0% calcium, 20% vitamin C and 0% iron)
INGREDIENTS: Citric Acid, Maltodextrin, Modified Cornstarch, Natural Flavor, Aspartame (Phenylketonurics: Contains Phenylalanine), Red 40, Contains Less than 2% of Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Vitamin E Acetate, Beta Carotene, Calcium Carbonate, Sodium and Potassium Bicarbonate, Magnesium Oxide, Acesulfame Potassium, Blue 1.
Criteria #1: Extremely Misleading Information on the Front Label
These individually packaged drink mixtures are intended to be added to water to boost flavor and improve your health. The front label clearly states "Immunity on the Go" and "Cherry Pomegranate." Both terms imply that the powder will boost your immune system and provide antioxidant health benefits via the fruit.
However, after decoding the fine print, the Nutrition Facts label and the ingredients list tell a different tale.
For starters, each serving only provides 20% RDA for vitamin C, 0% for vitamin A, 0% calcium, and 0% iron; we're not really seeing a whole lot of immune boosting going on here.
Then, we find very little evidence that natural cherry and pomegranate exist in the mix. We did however find two artificial color ingredients clearly used to give the mixture the illusion that there was some real fruit involved.
Criteria #2: Three or More Harmful Junk Ingredients
We found a total of 15 ingredients - eight are potentially harmful chemical additives (junk ingredients), including:
Two artificial colors (Red 40 and Blue 1)
Two artificial sweeteners (aspartame and acesulfame potassium)
One refined sweetener (maltodextrin)
Two preservatives (sodium and potassium bicarbonate)
One thickener (modified cornstarch)
Criteria #3: Deceptive Health Claims (Blatant or Implied)
According to the Crystal Light Web sit, this variety is part of their "enhanced line that contains essential nutrients designed to hydrate you, energize and enhance your body's natural defenses." The site also states, "our bodies need water to function, to flush out the bad stuff…"
Really? This product is the BAD STUFF that needs to be flushed out! It's filled with some of the worst chemical additives and they counteract any benefit that you might receive from the water. In fact, this product could actually be detrimental to your health.
Oh my Gawd! (and, thus we meet Criteria #4)
Bottom Line: We found no immunity properties, no significant antioxidants (read: health benefits) and certainly no cherry or pomegranate!
Crystal Light Immunity On The Go Cherry Pomegranate exceeds the criteria needed to win our first-ever HFI of the Month Award!
Nothing replaces the benefits of plain old filtered tap water. It's detoxifying, cleansing and keeps you from getting dehydrated.
We recommend you save your money and stick with the real deal. You'll avoid the chemical additives that can sink your resolve to get healthier! If drinking tap water just doesn't do it for you, then trying adding a squirt of REAL lemon or orange juice to spice things up!
Remember, when you're armed with a little BrandAid know-how, you're in control at the grocery store.
Kerry McLeod is eBrandAid.com's chief Brand Doctor and a blogger here at Diet.com. Kerry's mission in life is to teach food shoppers how to cut through the clutter at the grocery store in order to find the truly healthy brand-name foods. If smart food shopping appeals to you, go to eBrandAid.com and sign up for free newsletters.
May 24, 2010
Vitamin-Enhanced Waters: Help or Hype?
There used to be three things you could count on: death, taxes and, and chemical-free water in a bottle. Now there are two. Yes, the Grim Reaper still looms, and no politician we know is calling for an end to their beloved taxes. But do take note – someone is screwing with our screw-topped waters!
By now you’ve probably noticed the new kids on the bottled water block of your local grocery store. Next to your spring and glacier waters there’s an oasis of “vitamin-enhanced” waters.
Vitamin-enhanced water… hmmm, on the surface it sure sounds like a super idea, right? Well, no. These products are all wet. They take this week’s prize for the most blatent Healthy Food Imposters.
Case in point:
Dasani Plus, Vitamin-Enhanced Flavored Water Beverage
Take a look at the front label. It seems to imply the product is extremely healthy. You can’t help but imagine this water is enhanced with super vitamins that will defend and protect your health!
But read the fine print and it becomes clear that the only thing this water will defend and protect against is being healthy. See for yourself.
(8 fl. oz., 0 calories, 0g fat, 25mg sodium, 0g carbs, 0g protein, 10% Vit E, 10% zinc)
Ingredients (chemical additives are in bold) Filtered water; Natural Flavors; Citric Acid; Potassium Sorbate, Potassium Benzoate and EDTA (to protect taste); Phosphoric Acid, Acesulfame Potassium, Ginseng Extract, Zinc Gluconate; Sucralose; Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E); Yellow 5; Red 40
Decoding the Fine Print
We dislike being manipulated by sneaky marketing types. But it’s obvious to our food sleuths that this manufacturer designed the front label with the average unsuspecting shopper in mind. It’s chock-full of trickery.
For starters, each serving only provides 10% of the RDA for Vitamin E and Zinc. We hate to douse good intentions but that’s just not a very substantial amount. Sadly, what is substantial are the chemical additives pumped into this once-healthy beverage. We found:
• Three chemical preservatives – potassium sorbate, potassium benzoate, and EDTA.
• Two artificial chemical sweeteners – acesulfame potassium and sucralose.
• Phosphoric acid, a chemical additive found in most soft drinks.
• Two artificial color additives – yellow #5 and red #40.
Just to be clear, they took an unadulterated bottle of water and mixed in a bunch of chemical additives, insignificant amounts of vitamins, artificial coloring and a splash of fizz for good measure. Oh, then they upped the price and slapped a colorful yet misleading label on the bottle.
It’s a brilliant idea… in a marketing and sales kind of way. But for the uninformed consumer, it’s just plain wrong.
The bottled water aisle is one place where it a pays to be a super-savvy shopper who’s soaked up a little BrandAid know-how.
Don’t be fooled by the health hype on ANY brand of vitamin-enhanced water. Bypass the front labels, and go directly to ingredients list. Regardless of the brand, you’ll find all the clues you need to drink in the facts not the fluff.
Remember, when you’re armed with a little BrandAid know-how,
you’re in control at the grocery store.
And when you're linked up with a proven diet based on your unique personality, you will lose weight. Click here to start losing weight today.
Kerry McLeod is eBrandAid.com's chief Brand Doctor and a regular blogger here at Diet.com. Kerry's mission in life is to teach food shoppers how to cut through the clutter at the grocery store in order to find the truly healthy brand-name foods. If smart food shopping appeals to you, go to eBrandAid.com and sign up for free newsletters.
September 7, 2009
The Many Health Benefits Of Tea
Chinese people have been enjoying drinking tea for thousands of years and have also used tea as a health tonic. Only in recent years has tea caught on in the U.S. with more and more tea shops such as Tealuxe and Teavana popping up in shopping malls and in cities around the country.
You can also now find bottles and bottles of different types of teas, often infused with various supplements and vitamins in grocery stores. In addition, tea is a hot topic for research in reduction of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and weight loss.
So, what is tea?
Tea is made from a plant called Camilla Sinensis. Based on the maturity of the picked leaves and the length of fermentation and four types of tea are white, green, black and oolong.
White and green tea leaves are picked earlier as young buds and leaves, whereas black and oolong are picked as larger, more matured leaves. In addition, white and green teas are not oxidized, oolong is partially oxidized and black is fully oxidized.
Furthermore, there are many herbal teas available but these are not considered true teas since they are not made from Camilla Sinensis and do not provide the health benefits described below.
So what are the health benefits?
Tea is rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals and each type of tea seems to have their unique health benefits.
White tea, which is grown primarily in the Fujian province of China contains the highest amounts of antioxidants since it is least processed, and has been linked with decreasing cancer risk, particularly in lung, colon and skin cancer.
Oolong and black tea contain large amounts of tannins which decrease cholesterol levels and may reduce the risk of heart disease. Tannins however also prevent absorption of certain minerals, most importantly iron and should be considered if you are drinking large amounts of tea each day.
Green tea contains the largest amounts of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) compared to other teas, and helps to boost metabolism, and may aid in weight loss. In addition, ECGC is also a powerful antioxidant and may help to protect against heart disease and certain cancers including breast, prostate, skin and gastrointestinal cancers.
In addition, both green tea and black tea seems to reduce the risk of diabetes, as well as increase insulin sensitivity in diabetics.
What about tea extracts and supplements?
In general, tea extracts and supplements are not recommended because more research is needed to figure out exactly what nutrients in tea are responsible for the health benefits. It may be one nutrient or a unique combination of ingredients in tea that is necessary.
However, since you need to drink 3 to 6 cups of tea each day to potentially have an impact on your health and for those that do not like to drink tea, or have caffeine sensitivities, an EGCG extract or a supplement may be an option.
How to brew the perfect cup of tea
1. Heat cold, filtered water
For white and green tea, do not use boiling water since overheated water can destroy the leaves and the delicate flavors of the tea.
2. Steep for 1 to 3 minutes
3. Strain and enjoy
Drink to your health!
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August 18, 2008