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Keep those healthful foods healthful

Aug. 05, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Great romances -- "Phantom of the Opera," "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," "Wuthering Heights" -- prove you can't always tell what's inside by looking at the packaging. But who thought that was true for coleslaw or a million other packaged "healthy" foods that fill grocery-store shelves?

Often these so-called healthy foods have as many calories and more sodium and sugar than the standard versions. They can even block health-bestowing nutrients from getting into your body. Fat-free dressings are an example: They're lower in calories than dressings with heart-friendly canola or olive oil, but sometimes their ingredients prevent absorption of vitamins and minerals in fruits and vegetables. Another common mistake: You want to avoid dairy, so you opt for a flavored vanilla or chocolate almond milk and end up with 15 to 20 grams of sugar in a cup -- as much as ice cream. Or, to avoid emulsifiers and additives, you get a standard brand peanut butter's "natural" version, but it contains saturated-fat-laden, inflammation-causing palm oil. Rule No. 1: Read the labels!

One more "healthy food" trap to be aware of: You think because it's "healthy" you can eat more, more, more. You end up shoveling in extra calories and heart- and brain-damaging salt and sweeteners! Follow portion-size recommendations -- even with lower calorie and healthy foods. Your plate (9-inch diameter is a good size) should be two-thirds whole grains and vegetables; one-third protein (lean, skinless poultry or fish such as salmon and ocean trout, legumes and nuts). Fruit makes a great dessert!

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com.

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