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Are these foods truly healthy?

Founder of Nutritious Life (a private nutrition practice in NYC), author of 4 books, Womens Health Mag contributor, tv personality, mom, list maker, & lover of all things green.

The 411 on a few of those foods that simply make you scratch your head and say, “hmmmm… "

Ever find yourself walking through the supermarket thinking "How is this food truly good for me?" We all have our questions (and doubts) about the foods that we put into our mouths. But there are some foods that simply make you scratch your head and say, "hmmmm… ?"

Baby carrots

baby carrots

Photo credit: AnjelaGr/iStock/360/Getty Images

There has been a lot of hype over the baby carrots that many of us include in our kids' lunchboxes and snack trays. Although they're petite and bright, there is some speculation that the process of shaping them and extending their shelf life can decrease their nutritional value (and be harmful). Baby carrots are soaked in a chlorine solution to prevent harmful bacteria growth. The FDA approves this amount of chlorine use as safe. But, let's remember folks, they also approve of artificial sweeteners and food coloring. You decide. On the positive side, the "white film" that is sometimes present on the baby carrot comes from the dehydration of the peeled skin, not from chlorine resurfacing. Baby carrots and traditional carrots are very close to equal when comparing their nutrition facts. My verdict: Stick to the "real" thing to be super safe, and slice them into kid-friendly sticks. Kids should see how food naturally comes from the earth anyway. Another bonus, they are less expensive than their baby counterparts.

Baby corn

baby corn

Photo credit: PortiadeCastro/iStock/360/Getty Images

Haven't we all secretly wondered what those things are that make their way into our Chinese takeout and occasional salad bar? Most of us say "eww" instead of "aww" when it comes to these babies. Shockingly, these tiny ears are not some weird concoction cooked up in a lab. They are actually regular corn picked before they're fully mature, like picking a flower bud before it blooms. Nutritionally speaking, baby corn is not as valuable as regular corn on the cob (or as fun to eat). You would have to eat a ton of the minis to get the same amount of phytonutrients. The cornier the better, but these are harmless, so eat up.

Organic decaf coffee

decaf coffee

Photo credit: nambitomo/iStock/360/Getty Images

If I'm supposed to cut back on caffeine, I can drink all the decaf coffee I want, right? Wrong. Generic decaf coffee is made through a chemical solvent method to extract the caffeine. Various methods use benzene methylene chloride, ethyl acetate, and highly pressurized carbon dioxide. Trust me, nobody needs those extra chemicals being taken in with every cup of joe. Don't pout, just opt for the organic version. Organic decaf coffee is mostly made using the Swiss Water method, which uses water to isolate the caffeine. Translation: It's totally safe. If you are unsure of the method of your favorite type, check out the specific brand's website for more info. So now when you are craving that bold, robust flavor sans caffeine, enjoy a cup of organic decaf.

Are you surprised? These are just a few of the many perplexing items we encounter at the supermarket. So remember to never judge a book by its cover, and always do a little digging on the things that make you go “hmmm.”

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