Top Misleading Food Labels

In order to sell unhealthful food products, marketers will often put misleading food labels on the front of the package. Remember that it is important to read the ingredients list in order to get a better idea of what the product contains. A good rule of thumb is to stick to the perimeter of the supermarket instead of heading to the interior isles. Here are a few examples of common misleading labels.

“Lightly sweetened” or “low sugar”
The FDA has regulations concerning the use of “sugar free” and “no added sugars,” but nothing governing the claims “low sugar” or “lightly sweetened.” Processed foods claiming to be “lightly sweetened” or “low sugar” should be avoided.

“A good source of fiber”
More often than not, this “fiber” does not come from traditional fiber-filled whole food sources. Instead, “isolated fibers” are added. These made from chicory root or purified powders of polydextrose and other substances, none of which have been shown to lower blood sugar or cholesterol.

“Strengthens your immune system”
With this wording, food companies can get around FDA rules and give consumers the impression that a food item will ward off disease. If you see this claim on a food item, it’s more than likely just an empty promise.

“Made with real fruit”
Often the “real fruit” is found in small quantities, is heavily doused in sugar, and consists of apple juice concentrate. Make sure to read the ingredients list!

“No trans fat”
Many food products claim to have no trans fat, but these claims are often untrue due to an FDA loophole. The FDA allows food manufacturers to round to zero any ingredient that accounts for less than 0.5 grams per serving. So, a product claiming to have no trans fat can legally contain up to 0.5 grams per serving. While this might seem like a small amount, it’s not; over time this small fraction adds up. Any amount of trans fat-even trace quantities-can increase your chances of developing heart disease. When a food item contains trans fat, it is listed as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” in the ingredient list. Other phrases signifying trans fat are “hydrogenated oil,” “vegetable shortening,” “shortening,” and “margarine.”

Article adapted from Rodale Wellness.

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