5 Label Traps & How to Avoid ThemBy Nonna Joann • Feb 25th, 2010 • Category: What's in a Label?
We’d like to believe that food manufactures, or at the very least the Food and Drug Administration, are looking out for our health.
No, the only way you can be sure you are eating nutritious foods is to read and understand food labeling. The food manufacturer will do just about anything to convince you that their product is not only tasty, but healthful.
Abby Joy is secure because her mom knows how to avoid label traps! Do you?
1) Whole Grain Trap: The words “Whole Grain” on the front of the package sounds like you’re getting a good dose of fiber.
Truth: The front of the package can say just about anything. The only place you will find the truth will be on the nutrition label. A reasonably good source of fiber has at least 3 grams per serving.
Avoid the Trap by purchasing a food with a whole grain as the first ingredient.
2) Fat-Free Trap: Fat-Free or low-fat on the label means it’s a healthy food.
Truth: When fat has been removed from a product, such as in low-fat yogurt, sugar is added to make up for the deficient in the taste. There is approximately 7 teaspoons of sugar in a 6 ounce container of low-fat yogurt!
Avoid the Trap by purchasing plain (not vanilla) whole milk yogurt and stir in a little fruit-only jam for flavor.
3) Natural Trap: The label says “Natural,” so it must be good for you.
Truth: The FDA doesn’t have an official definition for the term “natural.” Natural can mean anything. Wood is a natural substance, but you wouldn’t want to eat it. On the other hand, USDA Certified Organic means the food is free from chemicals and has been grown without pesticides and GMOs.
Avoid the Trap by purchasing organic foods.
4) Zero Trap: The label advertises zero trans fat.
Truth: If you see “no trans fats” on the label, don’t assume you’re in the clear. Check the ingredients for partially hydrogenated oils, a trans fat. The FDA defines trans-fat-free as less than 0.5 gram per serving.
Avoid the Trap by reading the ingredient list and putting any product back on the shelf which contains hydrogenated anything.
5) Good Source Trap: The words “Good Source” on the front of the package, indicates the product is healthful.
Truth: Foods need only supply 10 percent of a specified nutrient to be labeled a “good source.” Sometimes the food manufacturer even fudges with that figure, because the 10 percent can be calculated for more than one serving. Look at the fine print.
Avoid the Trap by purchasing whole foods, which are the only good source of any nutrient.
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