Thursday, March 10, 2011

Myth: Items in health food stores are better for me.

Answer: BUSTED!

health food store aisle
It is common for consumers to relate health food stores with healthy products, but this correlation is not always accurate. If you buy food or vitamin supplements from a health food store, those products are not necessarily healthier for you. Often they contain just as many preservatives and additives as the items bought at your neighborhood grocery store. In addition, because they have to buy from their wholesalers in smaller quantities, items purchased through health food stores are often more expensive without offering any greater nutritional benefit.

Many of the messages on health food package labels are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. While words such as “all natural” tend to entice customers, do not fall for the marketing ploy! Every company has a different definition of the term “natural,” and you could easily fall prey to marketing strategies without really enhancing your health.

Foods such as energy or granola bars found within a health food store have actually been found to contain larger amounts of saturated fats and calories than those purchased at the regular grocery store. Read labels and become a comparison shopper. There is nothing wrong with shopping in health food stores, but make sure you are an informed shopper!

Visit the MissouriFamilies website for more information about the use of “natural” on labels or for information about energy bars.

Contributors: Mallory Bratton, KU Med Dietetic Intern & Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri Extension,, 573-882-1933

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