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Food Label Claims That Mean Nothing (Part 1): “Contains 1 Serving of Vegetables”

While perusing the grocery aisles a while back, I caught sight of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese – Veggie Pasta claiming to contain 1/2 serving of vegetables per cup.

Intrigued, I do what I always do: check the ingredients.

The first ingredient was the same as normal Mac and Cheese – enriched, refined flour (code for white flour).

Then, waaay down the list I spotted it: Cauliflower.

The company freeze dries cauliflower, grinds it to a powder, and sneaks trace amounts into the pasta. Yes, I said trace amounts.

Why? Because a serving of vegetables as defined by USDA is a measly 1/2 cup. So, I’m assuming they used 1/4c of cauliflower to qualify as their 1/2 serving, which will be about 2 small flourets. Not impressed.

Plus, how many nutrients are really left after all that processing, freeze-drying, grinding, and finally boiling when you cook the pasta? You guessed it, not much.

If you see a processed, boxed food product that proclaims it contains vegetables, be weary. Food companies will do anything they can to exploit your beliefs about healthy foods and market their products like crazy.

As Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition at NYU, puts it “Oh, what will they think of next… What a silly idea.”1

If you want vegetables, eat the real thing. Mac and Cheese isn’t the healthiest grocery store item, but you’d make it much healthier if you simply made the original version and tossed in a few handfuls of fresh spinach at the end.


Veggies: Eat them because you want to, not because you have to

Your guide to making vegetables taste seriously good

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Lily Nichols is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator, researcher, and author with a passion for evidence-based prenatal nutrition and exercise. Her work is known for being research-focused, thorough, and unapologetically critical of outdated dietary guidelines. She is the author of two bestselling books, Real Food for Pregnancy and Real Food for Gestational Diabetes.

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