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by DietWrite,'s Diet and Fitness News Reporter

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by Kerry McLeod Brand Doctor

Let’s face it, healthy eating begins and ends in the grocery store. The widening bottom line: What you buy is what you eat.

That's why I developed the BrandAid approach to smarter shopping. I always hated when I bought a product that I thought was healthy and later discovered I had fallen victim to slick label wording or misleading advertising.

Sound familiar? Well let's take a cue from The Who and sing out loud: "We won't get fooled again!" The Brand Doctors at are committed to endorsing a shopper-in-control mentality.

Our mission is to teach shoppers like you how to use our no-fail set of guidelines to avoid being tricked by misleading food labels on products we like to call Healthy Food Imposters! You know what we're talking about. Those pesky imposters that are seemingly healthy but are actually packed with all kinds of hidden preservatives, chemicals and artificial ingredients that are known to contribute to chronic disease and obesity. Eek! We're scared... and you should be too.

Here’s the deal all you readers " the ONLY way to avoid being tricked by food manufacturers is learn how to decode the ingredients list. This list tells a shopper what’s in the food item and helps you spot sneaky chemical additives that we have labeled as "junk ingredients."

You'll never be tricked again when you follow the BrandAid 3-Step System for decoding any ingredients list.

Step 1: Speed read the front label. Remember, manufacturers use this prime real estate to entice shoppers to buy their products. Translation: Much of the wording is pure advertising jargon.

Step 2: Quick-scan the ingredients list. If the list is super long it’s a safe bet that the food item is packed with all kinds of junk ingredients. Look for words that you can’t pronounce or terms that sound like something from your ninth-grade chemistry textbook. This is yet another clue that there are chemical additives that might be harmful to your diet... and your health.

Step 3: Be sure to pay attention to the first three ingredients listed. Manufacturers list ingredients in order from most to least, meaning the first few ingredients usually make up the bulk of the food item. Therefore, if the first few ingredients are junk ingredients, then that’s exactly what you’re getting... PURE JUNK!

Taken together, this information will help you make the healthiest food choices. More importantly, it will help keep those pesky imposters on the shelf right where they belong!

Now, check out a few of the worst Healthy Food Imposters we recently found lurking on your grocery store shelves…

Label Trickery: What 'Light' Really Means

Don’t get sucked in by big-letter front label claims that sound too good to be true. The "light" versions of most juice drinks may sound like healthier alternatives; however, manufacturers usually compensate for the lack of calories by replacing much of the juice with water and then adding chemicals to boost the flavor.

Case in point: Welch's Light Grape Juice Cocktail

In this case, "light" simply means less juice and more chemical ingredients. When we looked at the ingredients list and the Nutrition Facts label we found that the light version of Welch’s grape juice has 60% LESS JUICE than the regular version! Plus, it’s packed with a bunch of junk ingredients like malic acid, sodium citrate, sucralose and acesulfame potassium.

Gulp! Not quite the healthy juice drink you were looking for, huh?

Bottom line: When shopping for a healthy juice drink look for varieties that offer 100% juice on the front label, not those "lighter" wannabe cocktails packed with a bunch of chemicals.

To read the rest of the story: click here!

Vitamin-Enhanced Waters: Help or Hype?

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.

Case in point: Dasani Plus, Vitamin-Enhanced Flavored Water Beverage

The front label implies the product is extremely healthy. But it was obvious to our food sleuths that this manufacturer designed the front label with the average unsuspecting shopper in mind.

When we decoded the fine print on the ingredients list and the Nutrition Facts label we found that each serving only provides 10% of the RDA for vitamin E and zinc - that’s just not a very substantial amount. Sadly, what is substantial are the chemical additives pumped into this once-healthy beverage. We found 3 chemical preservatives (potassium sorbate, potassium benzoate and EDTA), 2 artificial chemical sweeteners (acesulfame potassium and sucralose), and 2 artificial color additives (yellow #5 and red #40). Yikes.

Bottom line: 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.

For the rest of this story, click here!

Trans Fat Trickery: When Zero Doesn’t Mean Zero

Thanks to labeling trickery and governmental loopholes, zero doesn’t necessarily mean zero when you’re talking about the amount of artery-clogging trans fats in a food product!

Case in point: Quaker Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

The front label clearly states "0% trans fat." However, when we looked at the ingredients list, we found "partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oils" prominently listed as the third ingredient and then again as the 15th ingredient.

Then, when we checked out the Nutrition Facts label, it states again that this product has zero trans fats. Guess what? When you see the term “partially hydrogenated” oils listed on the ingredients label, this is code for trans fat!

Wondering how food manufacturers can get away with this? According to the FDA and its labeling regulation, a food product can be made to appear free of trans fat if it contains less than 0.5 g per serving. Interestingly, the FDA refused to set a maximum recommended ...    Continue

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@ 6:34am ET on March 3, 2008
Thank you! I enjoyed reading this. ;)

@ 9:36am ET on March 4, 2008
I totally agree, you have to read every ingredients label on everything. I recently got tricked by one of those flavored waters turns out it had high fructose syrup in it!!! What a gip! Great info, keep it coming!

@ 4:41pm ET on March 4, 2008
gr8 info Thanx..
kp us posted!

@ 11:12pm ET on March 4, 2008
Wow this is great information I had no idea food makers could actually lie to shoppers!! Ill be reading the ingredients label from now on!! Thanks.

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