Understanding food labels can help you make wise choices – if you know what to look for.
Total calories, fat, sugar, carbs, etc are calculated per serving, so be sure to look at the servings per container.
In the video above, Dr. Anthony G. Beck sheds light on a few of the important numbers you should look for when looking at the nutritional labels.
Let’s dive a bit deeper into this.
54 percent of consumers read a product’s label before they buy a food product for the first time, and 41 percent of this group believe that most of the claims made – like “low fat” or “high fiber” – are accurate, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) latest Health and Diet Survey.
Out of this group, two-thirds use the label to check for calorie, salt, vitamin and fat content. Another 55 percent depend on food labels to give them a “general idea” about the nutritional content of the food. Many are also drawn in by claims such as “all natural,” “whole grain” and “no trans fat” – depending on such information to make healthy food selections.
Unfortunately, many food labels are incredibly misleading, leading you to think you’re choosing healthy foods when you’re really not. From undefined words like “natural” to deceptive serving sizes, reading food labels can be tricky – and the more you know about what to look for – and what to avoid – the better choices you’ll be able to make.
Let’s look at top misleading claim written by cncahealth.
9 Top Misleading Claims to Watch Out For
Anytime you read a food label you are trusting that the information it contains is accurate, but this is not always the case. Further, even if the information is accurate it may be intentionally misleading. Here are some of the top deceptive terms to watch out for.
1. Natural: A product labeled as “natural” must not contain synthetic or artificial ingredients, according to FDA policy. However, it may still contain pesticides, genetically modified ingredients, high fructose corn syrup and be heavily processed, which negates what many consumers think of as natural.
2. Healthy: A “healthy” product must meet certain criteria that limit the amounts of fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium, and require specific minimum amounts of vitamins, minerals, or other beneficial nutrients. However, it may still contain large amounts of sugar, artificial ingredients or preservatives, which may not be healthy at all.
3. Calorie Counts: The FDA allows a 20 percent margin of error when it comes to calorie counts. So your 500-calorie meal could actually contain up to 100 calories more. Further, researchers from Tufts University found that packaged foods may contain an average of 8 percent more calories than their labels claim, while restaurant meals may contain 18 percent more.
4. 0 Grams of Trans Fats: If a food contains 0.5 grams or less of trans fat per serving, it can claim to be trans-fat “free” or to have “0 grams of trans fats.” However, many people eat double, triple or more of the recommended serving size of foods, which means you may be ingesting 1 gram or more of trans fat per serving, even if it claims to be trans-fat free.
This amount can add up over time, so check the ingredients list for “partially hydrogenated oil” — if this is listed, the food probably contains a measurable amount of trans fat and is better off avoided — even if it claims to be “trans-fat free.”
5. Made With Whole Grains: Many products tout they’re a healthy source of whole grains, when in reality refined flour is the first ingredient. The FDA does not define what percentage of grain must be whole in order to use this claim, so be sure “whole grain” or “whole wheat flour” is listed as a primary ingredient. Typically, you can tell if bread is truly made with whole grains by picking it up; it will be heavier and denser than those with refined grains.
6. Misleading Package Images and “Made With Real Fruit”: Just because a bottle of juice or box of fruit snacks has pictures of fruit on its label does not mean it contains fruit. Many products even claim to be “made with real fruit” when they contain only a small portion of fruit concentrate.
As the Huffington Post recently reported, “Betty Crocker’s Strawberry Splash Fruit Gushers claim to be made of real fruit, but contain no strawberries whatsoever, and are actually made from pear concentrate, red no. 40 dye, and are almost half sugar by weight.”
7. Lightly Sweetened: Reduced sugar and sugar-free claims are regulated by the FDA, but the term “lightly sweetened” is not. If a product claims to be “lightly sweetened,” it could technically contain any amount of sugar.
8. Serving Sizes: Many foods you may think are single servings are actually divided into two or more on the Nutrition Facts panel, making you think it contains less sugar, fat and calories than it really does.
Some of the biggest offenders to watch out for are large muffins, bagels, ice-cream pints and personal size pizzas, which often contain multiple servings even though they’re sold as “individual” sizes. Also be aware that many serving sizes are smaller than you think. For instance, most ice cream manufacturers count a serving as one-half cup, when most people eat more than that at a sitting.
9. Certain Health Claims: The FDA does regulate certain health claims, such as “may reduce the risk of cancer” – but others like “helps maintain a healthy heart” or “supports the immune system” are not. A food item can claim any number of ambiguous health statements that may or may not be scientifically valid, making it a truly buyer-beware market.