Think you know the healthiest foods to buy for your kids at the grocery store? The NY1 Healthy Living report takes a look at common health food myths to help you make the right choices. NY1's Jill Urban filed the following report.
You may go shopping with the best intentions, but some parents don't realize that foods they think are healthy for their kids may actually not be. Labels can be tricky, and marketing and advertising can be misleading.
Dr. Dyan Hes is a pediatrician and child obesity specialist. She says knowing how to read labels is key.
"I think it's really important for families to really learn to read the labels of the products they are buying for their family. It will pay back in spades in the end because you will feel much more confident that you're making the right decisions," Hes says.
She has helped debunk some common myths. For example, just because a food is organic, that doesn't necessarily mean it's healthy.
"A common mistake parents make is that they spend a lot of money on organic products because they think it's healthy, but if it's organic sugar, it's still sugar, and your child doesn't always need that much sugar," Hes says.
Another common mistake is parents opt for light or fat free. She says often times, when manufacturers remove fat, they replace it with sugar or salt to maintain flavor. So be careful.
There is also a misconception that whole wheat is best.
"I find that some of the whole wheat bread is so processed now that there's almost no fiber left in it, so I recommend that parents buy whole grain," Hes says.
Yogurt is one of the first foods parents give to babies, but she says many parents don't realize that a lot of the brands marketed to kids are loaded with sugar. She recommends buying plain yogurt and blending or mixing in fresh fruit instead.
Many families serve juice, which she says is one of the leading causes of childhood obesity. Even all-natural juice is water from the fruit combined with sugar. She says it's better to serve the whole fruit to get the benefits of the fiber.
So what should parents look for in labels?
"Look at serving sizes. See how many serving sizes are in that product," Hes says. "Is a serving of cookies one cookie or is it two cookies? You should see if there's fiber, what the sugar content is and what the sodium content is."
Also, read the ingredients and the order in which they are listed. The first ingredients make up the majority of the product, so even if the second ingredient is organic cane sugar, that's a lot of sugar.
So what staples should parents always have on hand? Check back for my next report, where Hes offers up her picks for healthy, hearty snacks.