Beware these 3 Health Halo foods

any real fruit in that smoothie?Health Halos sell.  Just look at all the fiber, antioxidants, omega-3 and random vitamins and minerals added to foods, and touted on the front of the package.  Food manufacturers never let a good Health Halo go to waste.  Besides actual nutrients, some foods are crowned with a Health Halo that may not always be deserved.  Are you swayed by any of these Health Halo foods?

Granola: There is no official definition for “granola”.  It’s whatever the manufacture decides, although oats are usually a major part of the recipe.  Granola tends to have a crunchy texture and sweet taste, thanks to both the oil,used to toast the oats, and sweetners like sugar, honey or high fructose corn syrup.  Consequently it’s high calorie.  But the health halo remains, mainly because of the oats.   You’ll find it added to foods like yoghurt parfaits, bread, snack and meal bars, snack mixes and the like.  Healthier option: if you want the health benefits of oats, just eat oatmeal.

Yoghurt: Yoghurt in a container is mostly fine, unless it’s thickened up with pectin or other gelling agents, instead of  bacterial cultures.  When yoghurt’s deserved health halo is used to sell candy with “yoghurt” coating, I get annoyed.  And you can find this stuff everywhere: candies, snack mixes, cookies, coated dried fruit and pretzels, and confectionery bars for home baking.  Breakfast items, especially breakfast bars and cereals, are most likely to try to capitalize on yoghurt’s health halo by adding “yoghurt coated” raisins or other dried fruit.  Check the ingredients list: that “yoghurt” coating is primarily made of sweeteners and hydrogenated vegetable fat.  Healthier option: just eat some yoghurt.  You don’t need your raisins or pretzels coated with white goo.

Smoothie:  Smoothies carry the health halo associated with fruit, because most come with a fruity name and color.  Unfortunately, smoothies are frequently made with sherbet, sweeteners, frozen yoghurt, added coloring and flavoring, with just enough fruit puree to claim “made with real fruit”.   This claim rarely means 100% fruit.  If you buy smoothies at a speciality shop or the grocery store, check the ingredients list to be sure you’re getting a smoothie made with 100% fruit and juice.  Otherwise you may be drinking a sugary soft drink with a fancy name.  Healthier option: a smoothie made with whole fruit, 100% juice and optional yoghurt.

If your breakfast is a yoghurt-coated granola bar with a strawberry-flavored “smoothie”, you may want to check the ingredients lists on those packages.  Healthier option:  oatmeal and a smoothie made with real yoghurt, 100% juice and fresh strawberries.


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