Don’t Let Food Labels Fool You

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Written by: Brandi Monasco

When you are out shopping, you always see products that claim that they are low-fat, fat-free, low cholesterol, or low calorie. Manufacturers love to put these on their labels and sometimes, the claims might be true.

But that’s not always the case.

Manufacturers put label claims on their products to try to “beef up” the product in hopes that you will buy it.  And let’s face it, it works!

When the food guide pyramid was changed to MyPlate and the importance of whole grains came into light, manufacturers were quick to add logos and wording for “whole grain” on crackers, cereal, breads and even cookies. It seems that the manufacturers go with whatever “fad” is in at the time! Sure, makes sense from a marketing perspective.

But at what cost are you willing to wage your health on?

Here are just a few of the more popular label claims to watch out for:

Low Fat / Fat Free: You might see the “low fat” label on a bag of chips or a bag of “low fat” cookies. Foods with these claims on the packages are in fact not fat free or low fat. They are usually loaded down with processed, refined sugar or artificial and unnatural chemicals or additives. And just because your cookie is “fat free,” doesn’t necessarily mean that your cookie doesn’t contain the same amount of calories as a full-fat one.

Because guess what, excess sugar turns to fat. Period. It’s just how it is.

All Natural: When you hear the word “natural” you think of fresh, healthy, non-processed food. This is usually not the case for a label claiming to be “all natural.” Labeling the food as all natural says nothing about the ingredients in that good. The FDA doesn’t define the word “natural,” so that leaves it open for interpretation. A food being “natural” could mean that there is a “natural” food preservative added in the ingredients, such as chicken being injected with sodium.

Gluten Free: This is a popular food label because eating gluten free is trendy these days. However, a product that is labeled as “gluten free” doesn’t mean it’s healthy for you at all. In fact, many foods that are considered as gluten free are made by replacing the gluten with extra sugar or chemicals. These foods are usually highly refined and processed.

You want truly gluten free food? Shop your produce and fresh meats section. Forget labels altogether.

Sugar Free / Low Sugar: A food being “free” of something does not automatically mean that it’s healthy either. A product that says it is sugar free can actually contain a certain amount of sugar and still make such a claim! And, not to mention it can be loaded with crap like high fructose corn syrup and chemicals, chemicals, chemicals.

Low Cholesterol / Cholesterol Free: Cholesterol free products are required to contain less than 2mg of cholesterol per serving. So that cholesterol free product you picked up yesterday, isn’t necessarily “free” of cholesterol. Any food or product that is made with animal products such as eggs and meat, does contain cholesterol.

The majority of your food should be whole, unprocessed foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables and fresh meat. Just because there is a label saying that gallon of ice cream is fat free, doesn’t make it so – and especially doesn’t make it “healthy”. You could be eating a lot more fat and sugar than you think, even though they say “x-free.”

Know what you’re eating, friends. Your health matters.

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Brandi Monasco

Brandi Monasco

Health Advocate at Gettin' Healthy
Brandi Monasco is a freelance writer, graphic designer and social media manager from Texas. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Arts and has recently found a new love for health and nutrition.
Brandi Monasco

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