Whenever you’re looking for something new, whether it’s a new supplement, beauty product, workout booster, or even something neread-labalsw for tonight’s supper, it is very important to pay attention to labels and the ingredient list. Ignore all the flashy health claims made by the manufacturer (you know the “all natural”, “healthy”, or “heart smart” ones!), and turn it over to read what is actually in the product.   Don’t be fooled by great marketing.  Be the judge and decide if a product is good enough for YOUR body.

Do you know what you are eating? Here’s an interesting fact…

Did you know that when it comes to marketing, manufacturers spend millions of dollars annually to get consumers to choose their product no matter what is in it? They use terms like: Healthy, All Natural, Real Fruit, Fat-free, Sugar-free, Low Fat, Diet, Low-carb, Whole Grain, Multi-grain, Cholesterol-free, etc. They will even try to get you to believe that you are making a healthier choice by using statements like “Less than 100 calories per serving”!

So, let’s look at some of the more common health claims made on labels and discover what they actually mean.

All Natural

At this point in time, there are no restrictions on using this term on any product. Unlike products that are labeled certified organic and carry the USDA Organic symbol, a manufacturer that labels their product “All Natural” is allowed to have ingredients that are genetically modified (GMOs), contain antibiotics and growth hormones or even contain toxic pesticides.

Made with/from Real Fruit

Manufacturers are required by law to list ingredients based on the amounts used.  The first ingredients listed makes up the bulk the product, whereas those at the end of the list may only be included in minute amounts. So, a company can make a product containing only 0.5% actual fruit and slap on the label that it’s made with Real Fruit!

But it gets even better! Using a fruit’s name in the label is acceptable even if there are no traces of that actual fruit in the product. Did you know that some manufacturers are selling blueberry bagels and cereals that have no real blueberries in them? They are just little bits of high-fructose corn syrup and food colouring shaped to resemble blueberries! And this food “scam” is not limited to blueberries.

Fat-free, Sugar-free or Low Sodium

I put these three together for the simple fact that they are almost always linked in products. If you have something that is labeled as low-fat or fat-free, the manufacturer generally add more sugar and sodium to enhance the flavour. Conversely, if a manufacturer has labeled something as sugar-free, then the fat and sodium content generally goes up. You’ll also notice that certain other chemical ingredients may have been added, and most of the time these other ingredients (such as monosodium glutamate [MSG] or carrageenan, a hidden source of MSG) come with a host of negative side effects.

The ‘Less than 100 calories’ gimmick

As consumers started to become more aware of their caloric intake, the marketing geniuses figured out ways to use this to their advantage. By adjusting the size of a single serving, they could then make their products seem to be healthier for the consumer. For example, one major cola manufacturer states, on their 591 ml bottles, that a serving size is a little less than 250 ml. This means that one bottle contains 2.5 servings. By doing this, they can then state that their product only contains 100 calories per serving!

A great source of….

How often do we see processed food labels stating that the product has a “higher source of vitamin C than a glass of orange juice” or “more potassium than two bananas”? While the product may have a higher amount in grams than what they are comparing it to, what they fail to mention is that your body cannot absorb the vitamin. This means that your body will eliminate the added vitamin before you are able to benefit from it. I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to pay good money for a vitamin, I want to make sure that my body is going to absorb it! That’s is why it is so important to learn about what you are putting in your body.

A last word of advice

Read those labels – not the front of them, but the back! Check out the ingredients list and remember that if you cannot pronounce it, chances are that it should not be going in your body.

My hope is that you will be critical when examining what you are eating because I truly believe that what you put in your body can be the best medicine. Choose health and be well!

 

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