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Doctor: When looking for healthy foods, ignore the labels

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If it's true that we really are what we eat, then we better be eating healthy. How do you really know whether you're buying the right foods? If food labels confuse you, you are not alone.

The food industry is very good at selling you its products. One way companies market their food is by slapping a label on it -- telling you their product is heart-healthy, or all-natural.

Almost everywhere we look, we are surrounded by food.

"We can eat everywhere we go, from the bookstore to the airport, and there's more temptation than ever," said author and nutritional researcher Dr. Robert Davis.

How do you find the healthy stuff at the grocery store? Many of us go by what is says on the box, or the bag.
    
"And it's overwhelming to figure out which to buy based on the labels on the foods," said Davis.
 
Davis, who wrote Coffee is Bad (no Good) For You, says don't go by the labels.

"My advice is to ignore them all, because these are generally marketing gimmicks," said Davis.

Heart-healthy can mean a lot of things. Multi-grain just means there are several grains, not that you're getting healthy whole grains, so check the nutritional label. And what about the claim a food is natural, or all natural?
    
"But in fact, it doesn't really mean anything, there's no strict definition by the FDA when it comes to those words so when we see that, we pretty much should just ignore it," explained Davis.

The same thing applies with magic bullet foods -- that promise to be all you need to protect your heart, or help you slim down.
   
"I think what's important to remember is unfortunately, it's not that simple.  That what is really important is really our overall diet, our overall dietary patterns, not whether we include or exclude a certain food," said Davis.

So, what's the secret? Davis says aim for working in as many good-for-you foods as you can each day. That means fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and healthy fats. You want to cut back on junk food, refined carbohydrates, Trans fats and red meat.

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