misleading-nutrition-labels-864x569 Do you know what these common food labels really mean?

Do you know what these common food labels really mean?

In Health and Wellness by Karen Eisenbraun, CHNC March 18th, 2019

Grocery shopping for healthy foods can often be confusing, since many unhealthy foods are labeled with misleading terms and phrases that make them sound good for you. What many consumers don’t realize is that some food labels are deceptive, and that food companies are often able to stretch the truth to convince health-conscious individuals to buy their products. Knowing what these types of food labels really mean can help you arrive at healthier choices when grocery shopping for you and your family.

Here are the true meanings behind common food labels you may see in your favorite neighborhood supermarket.

Fat-free

These foods contain less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving — meaning not all these products are entirely fat-free. Plus, fat-free foods eliminate all fats, including healthy essential monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Food manufacturers then replace these fats with unhealthy fillers such as added sugar, salt, and thickening agents that not only work against your weight-loss efforts, but leave you hungry, less satisfied, and craving additional portions.

Sugar-free

Consuming “sugar free” desserts and other items may seem like a safe way to indulge, but sugar-free items may still have up to 0.5 grams of sugar per serving. Plus, sugar-free desserts are often loaded with harmful preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and other additives to compensate for the sweet flavor and taste of sugar.

Cholesterol-free

These foods are allowed to contain up to 0.2 milligrams of cholesterol per serving. However, in addition to lacking “bad” LDL cholesterol, cholesterol-free foods also lack “good” HDL cholesterol. HDL cholesterol, such as that found in avocados and eggs, can lend to improved blood flow and circulation, and lower your risk for heart disease.

Natural and all-natural

“Natural” is a term used frequently among food companies due to its vague, yet appealing nature. But The FDA doesn’t define this term, so it’s open to interpretation. Food companies are allowed to use this label on any product that lacks food coloring, artificial flavors, and synthetic substances, but these products may still contain ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup and added sodium. Read the ingredients to confirm the “natural” products you’re buying are indeed healthy, and do not contain harmful added sugars or artificial ingredients.

Organic

The USDA requires that foods labeled “organic” contain at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients. The remaining 5 percent of ingredients must be listed as “allowed” on the USDA’s National List. For instance, crops treated with alcohols and chlorine can still be labeled and sold as “organic.”

When shopping organic, buy foods labeled “100 percent organic” whenever possible, since these foods consist purely of organic ingredients. “Organic” means at least 95 percent of the ingredients are organic, and foods labeled “made with organic ingredients” contain 70 percent organic ingredients.

“Made with”

Buying foods “made with” real fruit or other healthy foods sounds like a good choice, but this label is virtually meaningless. The fruit may be concentrated or used in small amounts. It may not even be the same type of fruit pictured on the package. Some fruit snacks may use grape juice concentrate but add artificial flavors. Similarly, products “made with whole grains” may still have refined flour listed as the first ingredient, while the whole grains are used in minimal amounts.

Need help losing weight and getting your diet back on track with healthy foods? Garcia Weight Loss and Wellness Centers offer personalized weight-loss plans with consistent, professional support to help you reach your goal weight and maintain it. Contact us today for a no-cost consultation!

 

Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on June 28, 2017

Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant

Karen Eisenbraun is a certified holistic nutrition consultant and writer with a background in digital marketing. She has written extensively on the topics of nutrition and holistic health for many leading websites.

Karen received her nutrition certification from the American College of Healthcare Sciences in 2012. She follows a ketogenic diet and practices intermittent fasting. Karen advocates a whole foods approach to nutrition and believes in empowering yourself with information that allows you to make smarter decisions about your health.

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