Going green for your health?

 
By Erica Hernandez • Published: May 15th, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
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Consumers may be seeing green in a whole new light. A Cornell University researcher recently reported in the journal Health Communication that consumers are more likely to perceive a candy bar as healthier when it has a green calorie label compared to a red one.

The study found that even if both labels read the same calorie count, green-colored labels were consistently identified as healthier options among a group of about 150 participants. Green labels also increase perceived health benefits among consumers who concern themselves with healthy eating.

The study suggests that the color of labels can affect whether people perceive food as healthy more than the actual nutritional information listed on the label does. The best way to avoid falling victim to this effective marketing technique is simple though: Just read the labels.

For example, try to avoid foods that have coloring in them. Caramel coloring is not delicious or nutritious. It’s also crucial to look at serving size and realistically adjust the nutritional value to what your personal serving size will be. For some of us, one tablespoon of peanut butter just isn’t enough for a sandwich … but if more than suggested is served expect higher calorie numbers too.

Another important aspect on nutritional labels is the sodium count. It is recommended that one person consume no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium each day. Foods with high trans fat levels are also a concern. Instead of trans fat, look for foods with natural fats. Skim the nutritional label and look for a small and concise ingredients list that includes no more than two words you cannot pronounce.

Reading nutritional labels and buying food doesn’t have to be science but it shouldn’t be a game of gimmick either. So don’t be fooled by that green wrapper, those Thin Mints are not healthy for you.