New Rating Systems

March 11, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Nutrition

If you find your supermarket labels confusing, help is on the way. New rating systems are coming this year.

Toni Hope, health editor of Good Housekeeping magazine, says the new systems can help you make healthier choices if you know how to use them.

“The big one coming out this year is Smart Choices. Foods get the Smart Choices checkmark if they meet federal dietary guidelines. They show you the number of calories and the number of servings per package right on the front of the package,” said Hope.

Good Housekeeping says nutrition labels coming to a number of big chains, including Albertson’s, are good if you want to know about particular benefits, such as fiber or whole grains.

While we’re at the supermarket, let’s talk about artificial sweeteners. If you don’t want them in your food, you’d better look closely at the ingredient labels. Don’t assume products that look natural are free of artificial sweeteners.

Samantha Cassetty, R.D., Good Housekeeping’s nutrition director, says most people think of little sweetener packets when they think of artificial sweeteners, but the sweeteners are also in some very surprising products.

“Some even include the word ‘sugar’ in their name or they say they’re ‘naturally-flavored.’ But when you take a closer look at the ingredient list, you’ll find that there are some sugar substitutes among them. Look for words like ‘sucralose,’ ‘acesulfame potassium,’ ‘aspartame’ and ‘saccharin,’” she said.

The Food and Drug Administration says these sugar substitutes are safe, but some people just don’t want them as a part of their or their kids’ daily diet.

“Artificial sweeteners have no nutritional value. They’re in products that might look all-natural, and some of the products that they’re in say that they’re naturally-flavored. So if you’re the type of person who wants to avoid them, you really have to be on the lookout,” Cassetty said.

I know a lot of people worry about artificial sweeteners. And nothing I say will change your mind. But just for the record: the government’s National Cancer Institute says there is no clear evidence of an association between artificial sweeteners and cancer in people.

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