Here is the latest crop of misleading claims on food labels. There seems to be an endless supply. And many of the claims are written in code words that let companies make foods sound healthier than they are. Here’s a cheat sheet:
■ Flavored. “Flavor” or “naturally ‑ flavored” next to, say, the word “apple” is often code for “contains little or no apple.” It means you’re getting apple flavor instead of apple.
■ Made With. “Made with real fruit” or “made with whole grains” is usually code for “made with some” or, too often, “made with very little” real fruit or whole grains
■ Support, enhance, maintain. Claims like “supports brain health” or “maintains immunity” are code for “we’re betting that the Food and Drug Administration won’t ask us to cough up much evidence for this claim.” They’re called structure-function claims (as opposed to disease claims like “treats Alzheimer’s,” which do need evidence).
■ Antioxidants. That’s usually code for “this food has added vitamins C and E to make it sound healthy.” Most studies that have given people high doses of those vitamins—for example, to reduce the risk of cancer or heart disease—have come up empty.
■ No nitrates or nitrites added. The small print says something like “except those naturally occurring in celery powder and sea salt.” That’s code for “you’re still getting plenty of nitrates and nitrites from the celery powder.” And those additives may help explain why processed meats (like bacon, ham, hot dogs, and sausage) raise the risk of colorectal cancer.
At the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Nutrition Action’s publisher, we’re working not just to expose these and other misleading claims but to get rid of them. For example, in 2016 our lawyers sued Kellogg on behalf of consumers for splashing a “made with whole grain” claim on the front of some of its Cheez-It boxes. The crackers were mostly white flour.
Kellogg argued that its labels weren’t misleading because they disclosed the number of grams of whole grain, and white flour came before whole wheat in the ingredients list. (Ingredients are listed in descending order.)
In December, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit agreed with us. It ruled that the disclosures in fine print don’t “adequately dispel the inference communicated by the front of the package” and that a “reasonable consumer would be misled” by the labels.
We’ve also pressed the government to explicitly prohibit deceptive claims like these. For example, we’ve urged the FDA to require any label that makes a “whole grain” claim to also disclose how much is whole: 50 percent? 5 percent? Labels should say. Similarly, if a label makes a “made with real fruit” claim, it should disclose how much fruit is in the food.
It’s hard enough for consumers to eat a healthy diet. They shouldn’t need to carry a secret decoder ring while grocery shopping.
© 2019 Center for Science in the Public Interest NUTRITION ACTION HEALTHLETTER | OCTOBER 2019
While vaping is not a harmless activity, many experts suggest that it is the lesser of two evils.
My husband has been on and off cigarettes for as long as I’ve known him. He recently turned to vaping to try to kick the habit. While the smell of strawberry candy and chai tea is certainly more appealing than that of cigarettes, I had some serious doubts about the safety of inhaling such factory-crafted flavors into one’s lungs. Is vaping bad for you? It turns out, my misgivings were not unfounded.
What Is Vaping?A vaping device, officially known as an electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS), heats a liquid, sometimes called e-juice, until it is a vapor that the user inhales.
There are many varieties of e-juice. The simplest varieties can be made of just two ingredients: vegetable glycerin, which is used in foods, cosmetics, and as a replacement for alcohol in herbal and botanical tinctures, and flavoring.
Other varieties also include:
If You Use a Non-Nicotine Liquid, why is Vaping Bad for You?Even the non-nicotine e-juices can be problematic, Dr. Petrache and colleagues found. [1,2] When researchers look closely at what’s in vape liquids, they’ve found a variety of additional substances.
The World Health Organization wants to ban indoor vaping, noting that: “The fact that ENDS exhaled aerosol contains on average lower levels of toxicants than the emissions from combusted tobacco does not mean that these levels are acceptable to involuntarily exposed bystanders.” 
“In fact, exhaled aerosol is likely to increase, above background levels, the risk of disease to bystanders, especially in the case of some ENDS that produce toxicant levels in the range of that produced by some cigarettes.” 
One study found that vaping worsened indoor air quality by increasing the concentration of nicotine, particulates, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and aluminum. The Bavarian Health and Food Safety Authority reported that these compounds that have been linked to cancer as well as lung and cardiovascular disease.
But is Vaping Better Than Smoking?While vaping is not a harmless activity, many experts suggest that it is the lesser of two evils. Although formaldehyde levels are shown to be higher, a study found that some toxic substances have levels 9 to 450 times lower than in regular cigarette smoke.
If you are trying to quit smoking, vaping may be a healthier option in the short-term, but the long-term effects are simply unknown. Instead, consider other smoking-cessation aids, such as NAC, to help you kick your habit.
These categories of cholesterol-friendly foods can help you reduce your cholesterol numbers, keep you feeling full and satisfied longer, and help prevent you from eating other foods that negatively affect your heart health.
There are several reasons why certain foods are good for your cholesterol and your heart health. Some have direct effects on reducing LDL and/or triglycerides. Others are more filling and, if they’re low in calories, will help with weight loss. Plus, by filling up on these healthier options, you’re not eating other foods that adversely affect your cholesterol and heart health.
Fill Up on Fiber Higher fiber intake is associated with better cardiovascular health, and some research suggests that a high-fiber diet can have anti-inflammatory and blood-pressure-lowering effects. Furthermore, foods rich in fiber tend to be lower in calories and more satiating, so you don’t have to eat as much to feel full.
Soluble fiber is particularly beneficial for your heart and blood vessels because it dissolves in water, forming a gel that can bind with cholesterol in your digestive system and help remove it with your stool. As a result, eating soluble fiber can slightly reduce LDL and total cholesterol. Soluble fiber also has been shown to slow the absorption of sugar and improve blood glucose levels in people with diabetes.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and does not have the same direct effect on cholesterol as its soluble counterpart. However, insoluble fiber is beneficial for digestive health, as it helps move stool through the digestive tract.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that men over the age of 31 should consume at least 31 and 28 grams of fiber daily, respectively, while women over the age of 31 should get at least 25 and 23 grams or more each day, respectively
Fill your fiber requirements with these plant foods (animal foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy, do not contain any fiber):
Go Nuts Nuts have earned a reputation as another nutritional superstar associated with heart health. Nuts are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), as well as protein and other important nutrients.
Incorporating nuts into your diet, especially in place of unhealthy fat sources, may help improve your cholesterol levels and support your cardiovascular health, some evidence suggests.
Although nuts are rich in MUFAs, which help maintain a healthy cholesterol balance, each gram of fat contains 9 calories, and overindulging in nuts can promote weight gain, so consume nuts in moderation.
Add Avocados to Your Diet Like nuts, avocados are an excellent source of beneficial MUFAs, and some research suggests they may have positive effects on cholesterol and heart health, especially when used to replace saturated fats.
Keep in mind, however, that one avocado has about 230 calories. So, if you’re watching your caloric intake, you’ll want to be aware of what an avocado can do to your daily calorie total.
Focus on Fatty Fish Cold-water, fatty fish—such as salmon, mackerel, halibut, herring, sardines, trout, and tuna—are among the richest sources of the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These polyunsaturated fats are associated with good cardiovascular health and may help lower triglycerides.
Explore Phytosterols Also known as plant sterol esters and plant stanol esters, phytosterols are natural compounds found in the cell membranes of plants that may help reduce cholesterol absorption in the digestive tract and, consequently, help lower LDL cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. Small amounts of phytosterols occur naturally in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and legumes, but these quantities are too low to reduce cholesterol. However, a variety of food products are fortified with phytosterols, including a number of margarines and spreads, juices, chocolate, granola bars, and dairy products.
Find the Goodness in Grapes For years, moderate consumption of red wine has been touted for its cardiovascular benefits, possibly because red wine contains the antioxidant resveratrol, which may help reduce LDL, lower your risk of blood clots, and prevent blood-vessel damage. Red wine also contains antioxidants known as polyphenols, such as flavonoids, which studies suggest may boost levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol and help maintain healthy blood pressure.
But you don’t have to imbibe to get the goodness of the grape. Resveratrol and polyphenols also are found in red and purple grape juice (especially juice made from Concord grapes), as well as in the skin of grapes, so eating whole red or purple grapes may confer cardiovascular benefits. (The antioxidant content of red and purple grapes is usually higher than that of white or green grapes.)
If you prefer red wine, just remember to drink in moderation: no more than two 5-ounce glasses a day for men and no more than one a day for women.
Add a Little Spice and (Maybe) Lower Your Cholesterol
On the downside, curcumin is not readily bioavailable, which means your body doesn’t absorb it easily, so it can be difficult to consume enough of it to make a difference. Consuming it with black pepper and healthful fat sources, like olive or canola oil, is believed to improve its bioavailability and absorbability. You also can try turmeric supplements.
Be aware that taking turmeric in high doses may cause some gastrointestinal problems, and it may interact adversely with certain medications, such as the blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin). Ask your doctor if turmeric will interact with any medications you take.
Garlic is bad for your breath, but it may be good for your cholesterol. Garlic contains allicin, an ingredient that gives garlic its odor but also may help reduce LDL levels.
However, research has produced mixed findings about garlic’s cholesterol-lowering effects. While some research supported the benefits of garlic, one study found that neither fresh garlic nor garlic supplements significantly lowered LDL cholesterol over six months in 192 men and women ages 30 to 65.
Still, there’s little harm in including fresh garlic in your cooking, and you may obtain some cardiovascular benefits in the process.
For more information on steps you can take to lower your cholesterol, purchase Managing Your Cholesterol from www.UniversityHealthNews.com.