Navigating the Grocery Store Part 2: Labels and Lingo

My apologies for the large gap between posts! Sometimes life just takes you in different directions.

Now for Navigating the Grocery Store Part 2: Labels and Lingo
Once you make your grocery list and are meandering around the aisles, there are a lot of different words or advertising slogans brands use to promote their products. Lets break some down..

All Natural: According to the FDA’s website, this is the answer to the question of the term natural

From a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is ‘natural’ because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth. That said, FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives. However, the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances”. So to break it down, it pretty much means it hasn’t been artificially added but because it is not a regulated term it can still be thrown around without being verified.

Here are some common terms from eatright.org

  • Low fat – 3 grams fat or less per serving
  • Fat-free – Less than 1/2 gram fat per serving
  • Low sodium – Less than 140 milligrams sodium per serving
  • Low calorie – Less than 40 calories per serving
  • Calorie free – Less than 5 calories per serving
  • Low cholesterol – Less than 20 milligrams cholesterol and 2 grams saturated fat

The danger I commonly see with these labels is while foods may be low in fat or calories, it is not low in sugar-even artificial sugars!
I am a firm believer that it is not fat that makes you fat, sugar makes you fat.  

Look at the picture above at the comparison of the brains reaction to cocaine and sugar compared side by side. Pretty shocking! The World Health Organization recommends getting just 5% of calories from sugar which translates to about 25 grams. So while labels may say “reduced fat” be sure to check the sugar content! Chances are high if fat has been taken out sugar is added back in, whether artificial, real sugar or HFCS or whatever they can get their hands on.

Lastly, many people question the term organic.  Organic farmers are held to strict standards and  ongoing evaluations to be sure they are meeting the strict requirements to be deemed organic. I am a fan of organic foods-it helps the local economy and environment, keeps harmful chemicals out of the body, and more often than not the food tastes better. Look for the USDA Organic seal when shopping and you can sure the food is organically grown.

 

 

Sources:
http://www.eatright.org
http://www.fda.gov
http://www.usda.gov
Marion Nestle- What We Eat

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