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New Survey Shows Consumers Making Effort to Buy Healthy Foods But Buyer Beware: 'Zero' Isn't Always Zero
Date:5/19/2009

PARAMUS, N.J., May 19 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Americans trying to eat healthier are looking to nutrition labels to help make better choices at the grocery store. But consumers who take those labels at face value may find they're not eating as healthy as they think.

Nearly two-thirds of adults -- 62% -- make finding healthy foods a top priority when shopping for groceries, according to a recent nationwide survey of 2,100 adults conducted by Greenfield Online.

Some 72% of consumers report reading nutrition fact labels and/or ingredient lists is the number one way they determine which foods to buy at the grocery store to stay healthy. And 61% of adults surveyed rank "zero grams trans fat per serving" as the most important statement they look for on the label for heart health.

But consumers may be surprised to learn "zero" isn't always zero when it comes to trans fat. Products labeled "zero grams trans fat" could contain up to .49 grams of trans fat per serving under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines. That means consumers could easily -- and unknowingly -- exceed the American Heart Association's recommended limit of no more than 2 grams of trans fat a day.

"It's easy to see how despite their best efforts, consumers eating foods labeled 'zero' trans fat could exceed the daily limit before they even sit down to dinner," said Steve Hughes, CEO of Smart Balance, Inc., which commissioned the survey.

Even seemingly insignificant amounts of trans fat can have a significant impact on health. The AHA reports trans fat has been shown to raise LDL ("bad") cholesterol and lower HDL ("good") cholesterol, increasing the risk of coronary disease or stroke; and it has been associated with a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Adding just 4 grams of trans fat to your diet -- about 2% of your daily calorie intake in a 2,000 calorie diet -- can
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SOURCE Smart Balance
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