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Produce Pretenders

Posted by Joan Salge Blake  March 26, 2013 01:51 PM

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When is produce not Mother Nature's finest?  When it is packaged with added sugars, fat, and saturated fat. While you should be consuming at least 4 ½ cups of fruits and veggies daily, in an attempt to fight heart disease, certain cancers, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes, some of your choices may actually be Produce Pretenders (produce that is pretending to be healthy).  Here are some examples:

Produce Pretender No.1: Veggie Sticks 
Photo Source: AD Blake

The Real Deal: A quick glance at the ingredients label on the “veggies” in the package will shed light on what is really in these sticks: potato flour, potato starch, vegetable oil, cornstarch, rice flour, tomato paste, salt, and spinach powder.  Besides potatoes, the only main ingredient missing is the other veggies. At 140 calories for 2 cups, very similar to potato chips, your waist would be better served with a handful of raw veggies dipped in a low calorie dressing. Tip: For even a leaner snack and double dose of Mother Nature's finest, dip your veggies in salsa for an added kick.

Produce Pretender No.2:  Banana Chips
Photo Source: Nutrition and You

The Real Deal : Don't go bananas over these chips as a measly ¼ cup has 150 calories (the equivalent to 1 ½ bananas), 8 grams of fat, and 7 grams of heart-unhealthy saturated fat, due to the added coconut oil. Tip: Buy a bunch of saturated fat-free bananas, the way Mother Nature intended, and tote one along daily for a boost of potassium and fiber.

Produce Pretender No.3: Yogurt Covered Raisins
Photo Source: Nutrition and You

The Real Deal : A handful (about 16) of these sugar-coated raisins provides very little yogurt (and hence, calcium) but 140 calories and 6 grams of fat, with 5 grams coming from artery-clogging saturated fat, thanks to the partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, coconut, and palm oil added.  Tip: Add a tablespoon or two of raisins to your yogurt for a calcium-rich snack.

Produce Pretender No.4:  Mixed Fruit Juice Drinks
Photo Source: AD Blake
The Real Deal:  Beware of some fruit juice beverages boasting to be 100% natural.  A bottle of a combination of spring water and real juice blends actually contained spring water followed by pure cane sugar and then white grape juice and strawberry juice concentrate.  Yes.  All the ingredients are “natural” but I am not sure you are shopping for all natural cane sugar.  Another mixed fruit flavored juice drink was beautifully packaged with raspberries and apples pictured on the front of the package but contained only water, high fructose corn syrup, and apple juice, in that order, on the ingredients label.  Raspberries were missing in action.  Since the ingredients on the label are listed by descending order by weight, both beverages mainly consist of water and sugar.  Tip: The terms “drink”, “cocktail”, and “beverages” on the label are code words for added sugars and less actual fruit juice in the container. 

                                                    Follow Joan on Twitter at: joansalgeblake

Originally published on the blog Nutrition and You!.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, LDN, is a clinical associate professor and registered dietitian at Boston University in the Nutrition Program. Joan is the author of Nutrition &You, 2nd Edition, More »

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