The interior corridors of supermarkets are chock full of foods that claim to make you healthier. Brightly colored food labels proclaim “sugar free”, “low calorie” and “natural”, waiting for you in the hope that you can grab the nearest food package and start snacking. These foods may seem beneficial at best and harmless at worst, but are they? Let’s reveal some of the misleading food labels that could be misleading.
What are misleading food labels?
Food companies use cleverly crafted words and phrases to market their products in hopes of influencing your buying decisions. Attractive packaging designs with wise descriptions envelop food items that may not live up to their hype for food packaging.
Businesses are required to meet minimum government standards for product packaging and quality, and many times, the minimum is what you get. Misleading food labels are prevalent in supermarkets, so it’s your responsibility to sift through the bad to get to the good. We’ve included a list of more than a dozen misleading food label terms that aren’t really what they seem to help you do just that.
And what about the ingredients? Reading the ingredients list on food packaging is more important than looking at the front label. As a general rule, read the first three ingredients on the list. These three ingredients make up the bulk of what you are consuming. If the ingredient list is longer than two or three lines, you can bet the product is extensively processed. Look for ingredients like whole grains and other whole foods for a healthier option.
What’s more, don’t miss out on 6 toxic food ingredients that have been linked to cancer.
Nutrition fact labels list carbohydrates as dietary fiber, total sugars, and sugar alcohols. These carbohydrates provide energy in caloric form for the body. According to the FDA, the recommended daily value for carbohydrates is 275 grams, but many people choose to limit carbohydrates for weight loss. The “low carb” labels on foods appeal to dieters, but is the product really “low carb?” Don’t be fooled by these labels. The FDA has no guidelines for labeling “low carb” or “keto” foods.
A “gluten-free” label is a voluntary addition by food companies, which could pose a problem for celiacs. In 2013, the Food & Drug Administration finalized the definition of the term “gluten-free” for food labeling. They concluded that foods that contain 20 ppm (parts per million) of gluten or more cannot be considered gluten-free. However, this guideline means that products containing traces of gluten up to this amount can be labeled as “gluten-free”. Celiac individuals may find this troubling.
Here are the 6 best gluten-free flour alternatives, according to dieters.
“Light” foods are generally highly processed to reduce or eliminate calories and fat. Food additives are used to enhance the flavor during processing, so read the list of ingredients carefully. Additives can attack sugar or excess calories for “light” foods.
Foods labeled “natural” may still be one of the most complicated. This term does not necessarily indicate that the food is natural. According to the USDA, foods labeled “natural” must be minimally processed and may not contain artificial preservatives, colors or flavors.
When it comes to meat, for example, the “natural” label does not indicate whether the animal was raised on antibiotics or hormones. Other foods labeled as “natural” are often misinterpreted as having no artificial ingredients. Unfortunately, the opposite is often true.
“Organic” is another one of those feel-good food labels, but it doesn’t indicate that the food you’re eating is more nutritious. The FDA has established strict guidelines for the labeling of organic food, and products with this label must be “produced using agricultural production practices that promote the cycle of resources, promote ecological balance, maintain and improve the quality of the soil and ‘water, minimize the use of synthetic materials and preserve biodiversity “. For example, there are only a few pesticides and fertilizers that can be used in organic food.
So while “organic” food has been less exposed to pesticides and antibiotics, it is not necessarily of better quality.
Read about the surprising effects of consuming organic products, says science.
Low-calorie foods made by a company can contain as many calories as their competitor’s regular version of the same item. “Low calorie” products must have a third fewer calories (40 calories or less) per serving than the brand’s original product, which tells you nothing about how they rank in the overall product category.
Check out the 12 best low-calorie Starbucks drinks, according to a dietitian.
High fructose corn syrup contains roughly the same calories as sugar and has similar health risks. Often, when a product is labeled as being free of high fructose corn syrup, other sweeteners are added to compensate for the taste. According to the American Heart Association, added sugars should be limited to six and nine teaspoons per day for women and men, respectively.
Did you know that “no added sugar” doesn’t mean your food is healthy or sugar-free? This term simply means that the product is not processed with sugar or sugar-containing ingredients. The label, however, doesn’t take into account sugary alcohol or artificial sweeteners, so be sure to check the food label carefully.
The FDA has strict guidelines governing foods labeled as “low fat”. For example, the product must contain three grams or less of fat per 100 grams and have 30% or less of its calories derived from fat. However, sugar is often added to low-fat foods.
Fruit flavors such as strawberry, cherry, orange and lime are often artificially created to mimic the natural flavors of fruit. Artificial dyes, such as red No. 40, the blue n. 1 and yellow no. 6, often accompany these fruit-flavored foods. Food colors (Red # 40 and Yellow # 5) have been linked to hyperactivity and behavioral problems in children sensitive to these food colors. Hence, avoiding these artificial flavors can be beneficial for some people.
“Cholesterol-free” does not mean that the food does not contain cholesterol. The FDA states that foods with this label should contain no more than two milligrams of cholesterol per serving. If the fat content per serving of the food for the main courses exceeds 19.5 grams or 26 grams for the meal products, the total amount of fat per serving must be labeled next to the indication “cholesterol free”. Keep in mind that not all cholesterol is bad. HDL (good cholesterol) cholesterol can reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease by transporting cholesterol to the liver.
Here are the best breakfast habits to lower cholesterol.
Foods labeled “sugar-free” can be packaged with fat and other fillers to compensate for the loss of flavor or texture when the sugar is removed. Sugar-free foods should contain less than half a gram of sugar per serving. So, that “sugar-free” chocolate bar may contain traces of sugar.
Companies use the “hormone-free” label on dairy products to indicate that they do not contain synthetic hormones. However, if they use that label there must be a disclaimer and this disclaimer must state that the FDA does not recognize any difference between dairy products containing growth hormones and dairy products that do not.
Hormone-free labels on poultry, bison, and calves are unnecessary because the FDA prohibits the use of hormones in breeding these animals. Instead, the USDA requires a disclaimer stating that there are no hormones approved for use in these meats by federal regulations.
“Caged” means that the chickens were raised without the use of cages. Other living conditions are unknown, so your cage-free eggs may come from birds raised in overcrowded factory farms or other overly populated conditions.
Grass-fed food labels indicate that the animal’s nutrition came from vegetation rather than corn. This label does not say whether the living conditions were human or sanitary or whether hormones or antibiotics were used.