It May Sound Healthy.. But Is It?

Woman at Desk Eating Fast Food

When you are on a diet, words like fresh, healthy, natural and low-calorie tend to catch your eye. After all, everyone would love to have his or her cake, eat it too, and still lose weight. What exactly do these claims mean?

The Interpreting Your Food's Labels

The FDA regulates the use of food labels that could be used to deceive consumers. Words like organic or non-GMO can only be used on foods that meet highly prescribed regulations. Other common words used in food labeling have little true meaning:

  • Natural: In general, the FDA has no strict definition of the word natural. They have not objected to the use of the word if the product doesn't contain artificial ingredients.
  • No Hormones Added: This label is often seen as a health claim on packages of chicken. In truth, this label means almost nothing as hormones are not allowed in chicken; so all chicken is hormone free.
  • Healthy: Food manufacturers are able to label a food as "healthy" if it meets certain requirements for limitations on fat, calories, and has a minimum of specific vitamins and minerals. These foods may still be high in undesirable ingredients.
  • Rich In or Excellent Source Of: Foods that are labeled rich in a particular nutrient or an excellent source of it, are foods that contain 20 percent or more of the daily value of the nutrient in a typical serving size.

Whenever you consume packaged food, take the time necessary to read the labels carefully. Don't simply trust the labels, but examine them and consider how this food may or may not fit into your overall food goals.


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