BETHESDA, Md. (WUSA) -- Vitamins, whole grain, fiber, heart healthy; these buzz words are very appealing to rushed shoppers trying to make good food choices. However, local food coach Vianesa Vargas of capitalfoodcoaching.com says the words that really matter are not on the front of the package.
Vargas says, "As a smart consumer you need to understand that when you're purchasing a product you're purchasing a lot of other ingredients in there, you might think you are getting a healthy food but it's a health food."
"Look at the ingredients label, this is where you are going to find the truth about your food," adds Vargas.
She notes a Chef Boyardee pasta Beefaroni product that promotes whole grain pasta. What is added to a cup of this processed food is more than 30 percent of the sodium intake that should be consumed in a day, and that is only half of the size of the can.
Vargas gives a simple test: look for foods in which the milligrams of sodium on the label are an even ration with the calories per serving. Otherwise your sodium intake will be too high.
Next, Vargas points to Vitamin water. The American Heart Association recommends a daily allowance of 25 to 38 grams of sugar a day. A 20 ounce bottle of Vitamin Water contains 31 grams of sugar per bottle. Vargas says take a multivitamin instead and stick to plain water.
"You can flavor your own water. You can use a little bit of grapes, frozen grapes in your water, cold apples, whatever you care for." adds Vargas.
Moving on to the smoothies, Vargas recommends homemade smoothies instead of most smoothie packages in the store. She notes a particular Concord Foods Banana smoothie that has a bunch of extra ingredients.
Vargas says, "This is nothing but filler. This is nothing but extra sugar, corn syrup solids and xanthum gum. What's xanthum gum? You don't get that in a smoothie from mom."
Popchips are better than fried and baked chips, but Vargas says people need to really pay attention to the serving sizes on the back of the bag. A 3 ounce bag contains 3 servings.
Reading labels is essential. Vargas reminds us all to know what you are purchasing even with healthy branded foods. She advises consumers to says look for whole foods (chicken, whole grains, produce) instead of processed advertised health foods and you won't go wrong.