Common food labels decoded

Today's food choices range from organic to natural to fat-free and trans fat-free.
Common food labels decoded
When a product is labeled organic, it was produced by methods thought to be good for the earth.
Foto: Shutterstock

Regardless of age or gender, it’s important that we eat healthfully. Good food makes us feel good and is a key to a longer, healthier life. Reading the food labels on products we eat is one of the first steps toward living better; however, deciphering the contents on today’s food packaging can be difficult.

Combine modern agriculture with today’s vast range of food products and you will begin to see why deciphering food contents can be quite the challenge. Today’s food choices range from organic to natural to fat-free and trans fat-free.

If reading the labels on food products leaves you feeling overwhelmed, this list of common modern terms will help you make better food choices.

100% natural

We all aim to eat whole and natural foods. A product labeled “100% natural” means the item was produced without synthetic ingredients or preservatives. It also means that these foods do not contain any artificial colors or flavors. Keep in mind that “100% natural” does not necessarily mean it is healthy. Many natural foods still contain loads of calories, sugar, and fat.

Organic

The hot term of the modern food world is “organic.” Almost everything imaginable has suddenly become organic, and for these pure products, consumers are charged a great deal more. When a product is labeled “organic,” it was produced by methods thought to be good for the earth, meaning that it is free of pesticides, antibiotics, genetic engineering, fertilizers, and synthetic hormones.

Fat-free and low-fat

“Fat-free” and “low-fat” are other hot terms when it comes to food products. In order for an item to be considered fat-free, the label must show that it contains 0.5 grams of fat or less per labeled serving. When a food product is labeled as being low in fat, it means the product has 3 grams of fat or less per 100-gram serving. Always keep in mind that just because a product is labeled as being fat-free or low in fat does not mean it is without calories.

Trans fat

This one can be tricky because it has more to do with product ingredients than it does the actual serving of fat. Regular store-bought foods such as doughnuts, cookies, and cakes are usually made with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. These are bad fats, known as “trans fats.”

For food products to be considered heart-smart, their food labels should read less than .05 grams of trans fat per serving. This includes unhealthy saturated fats such as coconut palm oils.

Photo source: Flickr

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