The phrasing advertisers use to market products impacts the decisions we make when it comes to buying food. Although “fresh,” “whole grain” and “real fruit,” sound like descriptions of healthier products, food advertisements often mislead the consumer.
Not only do companies confuse the public about nutrition and healthy living, many make money at the expense of the consumer’s health.Although it’s a consumer’s choice to buy a product — and one might argue their responsibility to take a closer look at what they buy and eat — it’s irresponsible for businesses to trick people into thinking their product is either healthy or provides a certain health benefit.
Certain foods and descriptors carry healthy connotations, but they don’t always measure up. So it’s our job as the consumer to keep an eye on nutrition labels and ingredient lists and then decide for ourselves.
Here are a few examples.
Burger King Turkey Burger
Ground turkey can be a great substitute to fattier types of ground beef. However, BK’s “Better-For-You” Turkey Burger has 520 calories, 26 grams fat (5 grams saturated), 1210 milligrams sodium, 46 grams carbohydrates (11 grams sugar) and 27 grams protein. Although ground turkey typically has less fat than beef, this burger doesn’t. It has more fat and calories than a large fry (500 calories, 22 grams fat), a Double Bacon Cheeseburger (440 calories, 24 grams fat) and a Whopper Jr. with Cheese (380 calories, 23 grams fat). Also, it includes more than half of the recommended daily sodium intake for average adults (2,300 milligrams per day).
Make it yourself: 310 calories, 11 grams fat, 23 grams carbohydrates, 345 milligrams sodium, 28 grams protein
— Shady Brook Farms 93/7 lean Ground Turkey: (4 ounces) 160 calories, 8 grams fat, 85 milligrams sodium, 22 grams protein
— Wegmans Soft Sandwich Roll: 150 calories, 3 grams fat, 260 milligrams sodium, 23 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams protein
McDonald’s Real Fruit Smoothies
In a recent commercial for McDonald’s Real Fruit Smoothies, two people go for a run. When they’ve finished, pieces of fruit appear on a bench and then transform into a smoothie. You might expect to see high fructose corn syrup when analyzing the ingredient list for a Mango Pineapple Smoothie. There’s none of that. However, don’t think McDonald’s employees are blending handfuls of fruit while you wait in the drive-thru line. This smoothie includes clarified demineralized pineapple juice concentrate, mango puree concentrate, pineapple juice concentrate, orange juice concentrate, pineapple puree, passion fruit juice, apple juice concentrate, and natural and artificial flavors.
Basically, the smoothie consists of a lot of juice, which is sugar — a lot of sugar. One small smoothie has more sugar than a 12-ounce can of soda.
McDonald’s Mango Pineapple Smoothie (small): 220 calories, 1 gram fat, 49 grams carbohydrates (47 grams sugar)3 grams protein
Make it yourself: 155 calories, 0 grams fat, 29 grams carbohydrates (24.8 grams sugar), 12 grams protein
— Blend 1/2 cup mango, 1/2 cup pineapple, 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt, a handful of ice, and Stevia, to taste.
Arby’s Market Fresh Sandwiches
Sometimes, when foods are described as fresh, we think that food is a healthier option. However, that’s often not the case. Let’s take a look at Arby’s Market Fresh Roast Turkey Ranch and Bacon Sandwich. Arby’s advertises that it slices meat fresh every day. This sandwich is made on whole grain bread with oven-roasted turkey, topped with cheddar cheese, pepper bacon, ripe tomatoes, green leaf lettuce, onions and ranch dressing, according to Arby’s website.
Turkey is typically an option that’s lower in fat. But all the toppings on this sandwich pile on the fat and calories. One has 800 calories, 35 grams fat (9 grams saturated and .5 grams trans), 76 grams carbohydrates (18 grams sugar), and 48 grams protein. As with most deli meats, this sandwich is filled with sodium: 2,250 milligrams — nearly your sodium quota for the day.
Ironically, it has more calories and fat than some of the more decadent looking items, such as the Reuben (640 calories) and the Three Cheese and Bacon angus sandwich (630 calories).
At 700 calories, the Roast Turkey and Swiss Sandwich isn’t much better.
Make it yourself: 345 calories, 12.5 grams fat, 1,115 milligrams sodium, 26.25 grams carbohydrates (4.5 grams sugar), 36.5 grams protein (two slices whole grain bread, 3 ounces low-sodium turkey, 1 piece bacon, lettuce, tomato, 1 slice reduced-fat cheddar, 1 tablespoon ranch dressing)
Arnold’s Stone Ground Whole Wheat (2 slices): 130 calories, 2 grams fat, 260 milligrams sodium, 22 grams carbohydrates (3 grams sugar), 6 grams protein.
Jennie-O Reduced Sodium Turkey Breast (3 ounces): 75 calories, .75 gram fat, 390 milligrams sodium, 19.5 grams protein
Mavrick Applewood Smoked Uncured Center Cut Bacon : 35 calories, 2.25 grams fat, 155 milligrams sodium, 1 gram carbohydrate (.5 gram sugar), 2.5 grams protein
Marzetti Simply Dressed Light Ranch Dressing (1 tablespoon): 35 calories, 3 grams fat, 140 milligrams sodium, 3 grams carbohydrates (1 gram sugar), .5 gram protein
Cabot Vermont 50% Reduced Fat Sharp White Cheddar Slices (11 slice): 70 calories, 4.5 grams fat, 170 milligrams sodium, .25 gram carbohydrate, 8 gram protein