9 Shocking Food Facts

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Think you know the rules about healthy foods and can pick the best-for-you fruit from the produce section? These facts might surprise you.

More than half of Americans say they give a lot of thought to the healthfulness of foods and beverages they consume. But much of what we read and hear about nutrition — from the virtues of fruit juice to the hazards of fat — can steer us to make choices that are less healthful than we think. How many of the following food facts come as a shocker?

1. Imported produce from the supermarket can have higher nutrient levels than local produce from a farmers’ market. The nutritional content of produce is determined by a number of factors, including temperature, light and soil. Though storage and transportation cause some types of produce to lose nutrients, studies show that antioxidants may actually increase in other cases. As counterintuitive as it seems, this means blueberries shipped long distances could be slightly more nutritious than those right off the bush.

2. Foods labeled “no trans fat” may legally contain some. The government allows manufacturers to round down anything less than 0.5 g of trans fat to zero. That means if you eat several servings of a so-called trans-fat-free food — or a few such foods a day — you can wind up consuming measurable amounts of trans fat. To avoid it, check ingredient labels and steer clear of anything containing partially hydrogenated oils. (That may become easier if the Food and Drug Administration’s declaration that trans fats are unsafe holds, and they are banned from foods like doughnuts, baked goods and frozen pizzas.)

3. Decaffeinated coffee is not caffeine-free. Most decaf coffee has some caffeine. A decaf espresso, for example, can have as much as 16 mg. In a decaf latte, which contains two shots of espresso, that adds up to about the same amount of caffeine found in a can of Coke.

4. Canned white tuna has about three times more mercury than chunk light. The species used for white tuna, albacore, is larger and accumulates more mercury than skipjack, which is used for chunk light. The better option? Canned salmon has less mercury than both types of tuna.

5. Fruit juice can have more calories and sugar than soda. An 8-oz. glass of apple juice has roughly 115 calories, compared with about 95 in Coke. A cup of grape juice contains 36 g of sugar — about 9 g more than in the same amount of Pepsi. While the sugar in juice is natural (and not high-fructose corn syrup), it’s still sugar.

6. Not all fiber is created equal. To boost their fiber content, many packaged foods contain added fiber with names such as inulin, maltodextrin and polydextrose. While these count toward a food’s fiber total, they haven’t been proved to offer the same health benefits as the naturally occurring fiber found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

7. Cooked vegetables can be more nutritious than raw ones. Whether a vegetable is more nutritious cooked or raw depends on the vegetable, the nutrient and the cooking method. For example, we get more of the antioxidant lycopene from cooked tomatoes than from raw ones. Likewise, boiling carrots increases their levels of antioxidants called carotenoids. But cooking carrots also lowers amounts of other compounds.

8. “Multigrain” products aren’t necessarily whole grain. While multigrain may appear to be a synonym for whole grain or whole wheat — which is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and digestive problems — it’s not. It simply means the food is made from several grains, which may be whole or refined. To make sure the food is rich in whole grains, check the ingredients. The first one listed should contain the word whole.

9. Adding fat to your salad can make it more healthful. Eating vegetables along with fat can help the body better absorb their nutrients. So using a dressing with fat may make a salad with tomatoes and carrots, which are high in fat-soluble carotenoids, more nutritious than using a fat-free one or skipping the dressing altogether.

6 comments
TedWells
TedWells

Number 1 is a little unclear. What if you buy something from the farmer's market, but don't eat it right away ? (I buy two bags of vegetables to last the whole week). I can understand that some nutrients may increase with time as a fruit ripens, and I can understand that some fruits/veggies may begin with a higher nutrient content if the region where it was grown has soil that is nutrient rich. But to say that transporting fruits increases their nutritional value does not make sense to me. 

Similarly, Number 5 is suspect.  While it is true that some fruit juices may contain more sugar than some sodas, they can also contain nutrients. It is the empty calories, and ingredients that are detrimental to health, that make sodas a poorer choice of beverage.  And sugars that are accompanied by micronutrients and enzymes (that support absorption) and are released more slowly into the bloodstream, do not have the same affects as refined sugars.


jnlee99
jnlee99

We live in a country where public rejected the law to label GMO by believing the ads from the big food corporations!  US is plagued with food related diseases which you don't see in other parts of the world - not only related to the volume of the consumption.   A typical story goes like this:

"An Italian guy comes to US and eats pasta as he did all his life back in Italy.  He has digestive, hormonal, and skin problems and was told by a doctor that he should not eat pasta because he is Glutton Intolerant!  Well... he went back home to Italy and at all the pasta he is used to without any problems he experienced in US"

paulgeorges
paulgeorges

Eating in american way we die sooner than expect .Every one knows this in the world except in USA .

paulgeorges
paulgeorges

In the world every one knows that American don't eat healthly but in USA . When we import your kind of cook our health is bad shape. We are lucky because they are more and more billionaires and more and more poors anable to eat descently .How to succeed to get only wealthy people ? Simple : kill the poor not by guns but with carbage food !

CoffeeKb
CoffeeKb

There is a hefty fine for disclosing the inner workings of Iron Chef publicly, so this is the recount of a friend of a friend whom I don't know and never met.

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

@jnlee99Please cite the case and facts.  A "typical story" is called an anecdote.  It's not "fact".  It's an urban myth at BEST.

To date, there have been no reported cases of adverse reactions from GMO products according to the CDC and FDA.  Lots of places cite the same kinds of hyperbole you cite - stories and anecdotes - without once ever citing where it came from, when, who was involved, let alone any proof it was GMO's responsible.

Another thing is that there are other  foods that may cause the kinds of reactions described.  Your example describes strictly "pasta", but most people eat more than just pasta.  Maybe he has issues with soda pop because it has HFCS here in the U.S. and not so much in Europe.  Unlike in the U.S, HFCS was never widely used in Europe.  There are other dietary differences between the U.S. and Europe than just that, too, which have nothing to do with GMO's.

But the real kicker is this: As of 2013, no GM wheat has been approved for release anywhere in the world.  Wheat is the base ingredient in pasta.  So not only is your story false, it's deliberately misleading.

By the way, it's "gluten intolerant".  Not "glutton".  Glutton describes an excessive and greedy eater. Word use errors indicate a bad educational background which is often the hallmark of someone who is easily misled (among other things).

If you're making an argument in order to convince people of the validity of your opinion, please try to substantiate it with REAL FACTS instead of made up stuff that's pretty easy to knock holes through.