Can Food Labels Really Be Trusted?
Stop and read even when you see:
Natural: A product labeled as “natural” must not contain synthetic or artificial ingredients, according to FDA policy. However, it may still contain pesticides, genetically modified ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, and be heavily processed, which negates what many consumers think of as natural. It may not then constitute a healthful food choice.
Healthy: A “healthy” product must meet certain criteria that limit the amounts of fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium; and require specific minimum amounts of vitamins, minerals, or other beneficial nutrients. However, it may still contain large amounts of sugar, artificial ingredients, or preservatives which may not be healthful at all.
Made With Whole Grains: Many products claim to be a healthful source of whole grains, while refined flour is the first ingredient. The FDA does not define what percentage of grain must be whole in order to use this claim. So be sure “whole grain” or “whole wheat flour” is listed as a primary ingredient.
Misleading Package Images and “Made with Real Fruit”: Just because the packaging has pictures of fruit on its label does not mean it contains fruit. Since there is no law that requires how much real fruit has to be included in a food that uses this claim, the sugary treat could contain just one grape or one drop of orange juice to be accurate. Look at the ingredients list. When high fructose corn syrup and/or sugar are listed as the first ingredients, you know that the “real fruit” content of the product probably isn’t significant.
“Fat Free”: “Fat free” food labels may also tempt you to believe these are more healthful food selections, but check out the nutrition facts label for the actual number of calories and fat grams per serving.
“Zero Trans Fats”: Experts recommend that people avoid trans fats, which are created when oils are hydrogenated during food processing. But a product’s claim of zero trans fats may be false. If the words “partially hydrogenated” appear in the ingredients, then the food most likely DOES contain trans fats.
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Disclaimer: The information in this article is educational and general in nature. Neither Wildwood Lifestyle Center, its entities, nor author intend this article as a substitute for medical diagnosis, counsel, or treatment by a qualified health professional.