These supermarket and drive-thru staples get some much-needed makeovers
By Molly Raisch, Prevention
Thumbs-up food Who doesn't like an upgrade? Whether it's getting bumped to first class on a cross-country flight or scoring a two-for-one deal at the grocery store, there's nothing quite like the thrill of getting a better version of what you had before. So you can imagine our delight when we discovered these 10 foods that are now a much better buy thanks to some key upgrades in the nutrition department.
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Kraft ditches chemical colorings
Starting next year, the SpongeBob Squarepants, Halloween, and winter shape varieties of Kraft's macaroni and cheese will be missing two notable ingredients: Yellow No. 5 and Yellow No. 6, both suspected carcinogens. According to the Associated Press , Kraft has decided to eliminate these chemical-based colorings in favor of natural ones like paprika and turmeric in its line of kid-centric cheesy dinners. The conversation about these artificial dyes started back in March when two food bloggers posted a video online urging the company to cut out both of these colorings--noting the link of food dyes to hyperactivity in children--and started a petition online, which got close to 350,000 signatures. Kraft states that its decision to alter the recipe wasn't connected to the online grassroots effort, but we have a feeling that the groundswelling didn't hurt the effort to usher in such a change.
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Yoplait cuts out corn syrup
When customers talk, the "so good" yogurt company listens. A few years ago, one of Yoplait's fans spoke up on Facebook saying that she really wished high fructose corn syrup wasn't in their recipe. Thanks to research linking high fructose corn syrup with a higher rate of liver and tissue damage, the woman wasn't alone in her concern. In fact, this particular post gained so much traction online, Yoplait had no choice but to address it. The result? They eliminated the chemically-altered sweetener from all Yoplait products including the varieties aimed at kids, like Go-Gurt.
General Mills goes GMO-free
After a year of effort--and another consumer-led Facebook campaign--General Mills has announced they will no longer be making original Cheerios with genetically modified (GMO) ingredients. The manufacturer will instead source non-GMO corn and pure cane sugar for the cereal that most people attribute as their first solid food.
Chipotle adds tofu to the menu
Vegetarians and vegans, rejoice! Chipotle paves the way in what it means to provide high quality ingredients for all its customers--no matter their protein preference. The build-your-own Mexican joint recently announced that it will offer a tofu option in 19 metro-areas. But the best part about this decision is that Chipotle has decided to get its tofu from Hodo Soy, a well known non-GMO soy producer in Oakland, California. Why is this notable? Soy is one of the most commonly genetically engineered crops in the United States, and these nearly ubiquitous chemically altered crops have never been properly tested for long-term health effects, making many scientists wary of possible issues down the road.
Ben & Jerry's says no to GMOs
I scream. You scream. We all scream for ice cream…without GMOs. The only company who's listened to our pleas? The gurus behind Cherry Garcia: Ben & Jerry's. As previously mentioned, commonly genetically-modified crops like corn, soy, and sugar beets have caused a stir in the nutrition community simply because we don't know the long-lasting effects of changing a plant's DNA. This sentiment isn't lost on Ben & Jerry's, either. The Vermont-based company is taking the rocky road less travelled by vowing to be a GMO-free establishment by mid 2014. Kudos are also in order for their efforts thus far; according to their website, many of the products are already GMO-free: "In fact all our products made in Europe are already non-GMO." Want more GMO-free options? Check out our 100 Cleanest Packaged Food Awards.
Caribou's eggs are cage-free
Now you can feel even better about grabbing a breakfast sammy at Caribou on the way to work. That's because by using cage-free eggs, the national coffee café has opted to go the humane way when it comes to their egg sandwiches. Since the vast majority of egg-laying hens in the United States are confined to incredibly small cages where the hens can't even spread their wings, we can't help but applaud companies like Caribou for taking animal welfare to the next level of awareness.
Dunkin Donuts uses fair trade espresso beans
That buzz you get from your Dunkin Donuts cappuccino might not just be the feel-good effects of caffeine-it could be the warm and fuzzy feeling you get from knowing that you're supporting a fair trade effort. Through purchasing fair trade arabica beans, the Massachusetts-based company supports the economic and environmental welfare of coffee-farming communities in developing countries. For a few years, Dunkin Donuts has been leading the charge in fair trade coffee and as of December 31, 2012, DD had purchased more 33 million pounds of Fair Trade Certified coffee for their espresso, latte, and cappuccino beverages. Honest prices and good working conditions for all farmers? We'll drink to that.
Burger King trimmed the fat in their fries
When you're craving a crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy on-the-inside French fry, nothing but the indulgent potato snack will do. So when Burger King released a skinnier, less fattening version of the French fry in locations nationwide, we got excited. In fact, the Satisfries nutritional stats might astound you: They boast 40% less fat and 30% fewer calories than traditional fries.
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Walmart will cut sodium by 25%
Walmart made a huge pledge in 2011 that healthy eating would become a priority for the retail giant. They vowed to reformulate thousands of everyday packaged food items by 2015: slashing sodium 25%, cutting out added sugars by 10%, as well as throwing out all remaining industrially produced trans fats. Since more than 245 million people shop at Walmart in a given week, any small changes in the store's nutritional offerings can have huge effects on the welfare of millions. Although the fruits of this get-healthier campaign are more than a year out, we'll still send the jumbo store a few kudos for their long-term vision. (In the meantime, start kicking your salt habit with these 8 low-sodium dinner ideas.)
Gatorade kicks controversial ingredient, BVO, to the curb
Beverage giant PepsiCo recently decided to pull the controversial ingredient brominated vegetable oil from its citrus-flavored sports drink. The reason for benching the oil? While the FDA deems this ingredient as "generally recognized as safe," the fact that this ingredient is also used in flame retardants simply didn't sit well with some people, including Mississippi high school student Sarah Kavanagh. Kavanagh posted a petition online in late 2012 and gained more than 200,000 signatures to remove the chemical from Gatorade's ingredient list. And the high schooler got her wish: In the months that followed, PepsiCo announced that BVO would no longer be a part of the formula.
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