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What's Really in Many 'Healthy' Foods - WSJ.com

A lot of Americans think they're eating a healthy diet these days. But it's easy to be fooled by our assumptions and the ways that food manufacturers play on them.

Take chicken. The average American eats about 90 pounds of it a year, more than twice as much as in the 1970s, part of the switch to lower-fat, lower-cholesterol meat proteins. But roughly one-third of the fresh chicken sold in the U.S. is "plumped" with water, salt and sometimes a seaweed extract called carrageenan that helps it retain the added water. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says chicken processed this way can still be labeled "all natural" or "100% natural" because those are all natural ingredients, even though they aren't naturally found in chicken.

Many Americans assume they are on a healthy diet these days. But it's easy to be fooled. WSJ's Health Columnist Melinda Beck looks at whether some products are really as healthy as they say they are.

Producers must mention the added ingredients on the package -- but the lettering can be small: just one-third the size of the largest letter in the product's name. If you're trying to watch your sodium to cut your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke, it pays to check the Nutrition Facts label. Untreated chicken has about 45 to 60 mgs of sodium per four-ounce serving. So-called enhanced or "plumped" chicken has between 200 and 400 mgs of sodium per serving, almost as much as a serving of fast-food french fries.

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:42:48 PM EST
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