Last August, when a fast-moving rabbit hopped onto the Bristol Motor Speedway during a NASCAR race, officials brought out the red flags to signal a complete stop as they figured out how to get the hoppin’ creature safely off the track. Now, the drivers and millions of fans know exactly what a red flag signals, but how many of you can spot (and pay attention to) the red flags on food and beverage labels?
Our top three red flags on labels: 1. Partially hydrogenated fats and oils -- trans fats. 2. Added sugars (maltose, dextrose, fructose, any syrup, cane anything). 3. Processed meats with sodium nitrite (a preservative); that’s a sign it’s a meat you should skip for a lot of reasons.
Now, if we can just get the food industry to make those red flags on labels readable! A recent study in the journal Pediatrics found that when clear warning labels are put on sugar-sweetened beverages, 60 percent of parents choose not to buy them. (That’s great, but hey, remaining 40 percent, pay attention!) Without the clear warning, it’s easy to be fooled. For example, one brand of grape juice pours out 8 teaspoons of added sugar per serving. Another right next to it on the shelf has no added sugar! It’s up to you to find hidden red flags and stop buying those items.
So when you shop, take the time to read the ingredients list, and bring those reading glasses. The companies put the info in such small type, you’ll need them!
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, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.