Trick or treat? Reading food labels

Registered and licensed dietitian, Victoria Shanta Retenly, author of "The Essential Guide to Healthy Healing Foods," identifies the snacks that are simply "tricks" from those real "treats" that are actually living up to their health claims.

CLAIM: Low Sugar/Sugar Free – With sugar overconsumption rates on the rise, many consumers are looking for products that are low in sugar or sugar-free. Beware of the 'no-sugar' claim as these foods typically other sweeteners and additives to make it pleasing to a sweet tooth.

thinkThin bars – Trick or Treat? Trick! Although the bars claim no-sugar, they are sweetened with other sweeteners like malitol, xylitol and sorbitol – that can cause bloating, gas and painful tummies for kids, if too much is eaten.

KIND bars –Trick or Treat? Treat! This newest line from KIND Bars are all 5g of sugar or less with nothing artificial and use only whole ingredients that you can easily read and understand on the label. CLAIM: Low Fat/Fat Free (vs. Healthy fats) - This means a product has less fat than the original product or other similar products or is completely free of fat but unfortunately many low-fat foods have just as many calories and sugar as their full-fat counterparts.

Fruit-Flavored Yogurt – Trick or Treat? Trick! Although the front of the label claims it is 99% fat-free, fat-free is necessarily a good thing if the majority of the calories come from added sugar – whether real or artificial. The can have more than 5 tsp. in one serving!.

Nuts – Trick or Treat? Treat! Particularly for Halloween, a better choice for kids as they are naturally low in sugar, high in protein and contain healthful fats that will satisfy the appetite. Plus, kids will have fun opening these bite-sized "Frankenweenie" packages. CLAIM: All Natural – Many foods claim to be "all-natural" meaning they do not contain artificial coloring or additives, however all you need to do is read the ingredient list to see that many of these 'so called' foods contain chemicals and other artificial ingredients.

Salad dressing: Trick or Treat? Trick! "All-natural" shows up a lot on salad dressing labels, but next time you're trying to determine whether this is true - take a look at the endless list of ingredients that you need to Google.

Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar or Lemon Juice: Trick or Treat? Treat! Mix up your own dressing, so you do not spoil the health benefits of your salad. CLAIM: Made with 'Whole Grains' – While many foods, especially cereals and granolas, claim the health benefits of whole grains, they are typically processed with other artificial ingredients and added sugars.

Trix: Trick or Treat? Trick! Although the box claims 'whole-grains' this cereal is very low in fiber and extremely high in sugar with about 10g per serving.

Cheerios: Trick or Treat? Treat! You cannot go wrong with the classic - one serving of this 100% whole grain cereal is just 100 calories with 3g of fiber and only 1g of sugar.

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