Beware of misleading labels!
The problem is that labels are complicated … and can be misleading. Here’s what you really need to know when you’re thinking about what to buy ...
- Cholesterol-free: Don’t be too impressed when you see plant-based foods marked “cholesterol-free.” Nuts and dried food are already free from cholesterol. That probably comes to you as no surprise. But here’s the kicker: so are potato chips! The U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee says that paying attention to saturated and trans fats is far more important for heart health than is worrying about cholesterol.
- Trans fat-free: Pretty much everyone knows that trans fats aren’t a healthy choice for heart health. That’s easy. But where do you find these pesky fats? Current labeling laws say that any value less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving can be marked as zero grams. Yes, you really did read that right: even if the label reads “0 grams” of trans fat per serving, there can still be trace amounts, which add up (if you have several servings of the food, for example, or have a lot of it over time). The best way to check for fat content? Look at the ingredient list for hydrogenated oils and partially hydrogenated oils.
- Natural: Most of us think that “natural” essentially means the same thing as “healthy.” Don’t you? The reality is that “natural” says nothing about the quality of the food. Read the ingredients, not the adjectives!
- Omega-3: Everyone wants to be eating foods containing Omega-3 fats: they’re good for us! They promote memory, immunity, skin health, vision, and heart health. In this case, the details matter: the EPH and DHA form of Omega-3 fats are the only fats associated with those benefits. Check foods carefully to see which type of Omega-3 fats they contain.
- Non-GMO: Recently the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a new “process-verified seal” in which participating companies can go through a series of steps to verify their processing and then feature the logo on their products. While this certification cannot completely guarantee that a product is GMO-free, it can help you select companies that have made minimizing the use of GMOs a priority.
Want to learn more? The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has some tips on understanding and using its nutrition facts labels.
At Bliss Shurfine Food Mart we support understanding what goes into the foods we sell. We’re always happy to help you choose the right foods for your family. Why not come in and ask us how today?