Healthy Eating: Five deceptively deceitful labels
By KATHRYN RUBIN
Is it really healthy? Or is it just a marketing ploy? Find out what “lightly sweetened”, “natural”, “multigrain” and a few more labels really mean.
As more and more food companies
hop aboard the “healthy” train, we are seeing an increasing number of
advertisements that speak to a product’s nutritional content. However,
perceptive marketers have taken it one step further, slapping labels across
everything from canned soups, to bread, to even cookies and candy claiming that
the product contains added vitamins, real whole grains or is “natural.”
Unfortunately, many food labels can be very misleading, leading people to think
they are choosing healthy foods when they are not.
Here's a list of five of the
most common and most misleading “catch words” slapped across some of our
Excellent source of Vitamin C
If you walk down any food aisle of
a supermarket you’ll probably notice that many food products have labels
claiming that they are high in Vitamin C. Now what could be wrong with that?
After all this vitamin is without doubt chock full of health benefits.
if you eat a decent amount of fruit and vegetables each day, you are more than
likely getting more than enough Vitamin C. One orange supplies more than 100
percent, with berries offering more than two-thirds of your daily intake and one
red pepper offers a whopping 150% of the recommended daily amount. So you really
don’t need to be tempted by sugary snack products such as Fruit Roll Up, which
advertise that they contain 50% of your daily intake of this skin beneficial
Multigrain or Whole wheat
Fiber is all the rage right now, with many of
us trying to cram our diets with as much of this nutrient as possible – after
all it has been linked with weight loss and many disease-fighting benefits. But
what does multigrain or whole wheat really mean? How much of the product is
really whole grain?
Unfortunately many products labeled "multigrain" and "whole
wheat" are typically made with refined grains (white flour), and so you're not
reaping the full nutritional benefit of the whole grain. To make sure your bread
is really full of whole grains, check out (or ask about) the nutritional
information to make sure that the first ingredient is “whole grain” or
“whole-wheat flour.” Also, check out where bleached or "unbleached enriched
wheat flour" lies on the list, as this will indicate how much refined flour is
really in your food.
Labeled as “Natural”
With organic products growing in
popularity, more and more people are scouting the grocery store aisles for
organic fruits, vegetables, eggs, cheese and even cookies. But where does
natural fit in the mix?
First things first, natural does not mean organic – in
fact this unregulated term can be slapped across product that is loaded with
artificial ingredients, chemicals and preservatives. So make sure to read the
labels carefully to find out if the product is really hormone and pesticide free
and that you are not just falling for this advertising trap.
“Lightly” generally means a little or less of – however, just like the
term “natural” there is no regulation of the label “lightly sweetened”, and so
it is completely up to the discretion of the manufacturer to determine what they
consider “lightly sweetened” to mean. And for some cereal manufactures this can
mean 14 grams of sugar per serving, not just a teaspoon.
Marked as Gluten Free
In the past two years we have heard more and more about going “Gluten-free”. A
diet once reserved to those who suffer from celiac disease, many people are
flocking to this eating regime as a way to reduce symptoms from gluten
sensitivity. And with the market size growing, it’s no wonder that we are seeing
Gluten free products pop up everywhere. But how many of these products are truly
According to Pam King, director of operations and development at
the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland, not all
gluten-free products are free of rye or barley gluten, which may be just as