The most common labels that may deceive the average consumer are: gluten-free, trans fat-free, no high-fructose corn syrup, whole-grain, low-fat and organic.
Gluten-free: Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. For many with celiac disease, a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine making it challenging, or impossible, to absorb parts of food needed to stay healthy.
Trans Fat-Free: Trans fat is created when oils are treated with hydrogen gas to increase shelf life.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, trans fat increases low-density lipoprotein, commonly known as bad cholesterol. This can essentially lead to coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in America.
No High-Fructose Corn Syrup: High-fructose corn syrup is a common sweetener in sodas and fruit-flavored drinks. It has been linked to increasing rates of obesity.
When a product is labeled as no high-fructose corn syrup other sugary ingredients are used like honey, molasses, sucrose, fructose, and fruit juice concentrate. If any product has these sweeteners as one of the first four ingredients you should avoid purchasing them.
Whole-Grain: Whole-grains are a great source of fiber, selenium, potassium and magnesium. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that at least half of the grains you consume are whole grains.
However don’t be fooled when most products state “made with whole grains.” Always purchase products that state “100 percent whole grains.”
Low-Fat: According to a health survey, more than 1,000 individuals consume foods labeled as “low-fat,” “reduced” or “light” because they believe they have fewer calories and are healthier.
Labeling regulations define “low-fat” as containing less than three percent of fat, whereas “reduced fat” and “light” must contain 30 percent less than the original product.
Most consumers are unaware of what the terms “reduced fat” and “light” means. Out of 1,005 individuals who were surveyed, only 16 percent of shoppers could identify that these products must have 30 percent less fat compared to the standard.
When purchasing a product that states low-fat, be sure it contains less fat compared to the original product.
Organic: Organic products in most cases are better for you, however when purchasing grain products, like chips, noodles, cookies, and crackers, avoid organic products. When you do purchase organic products, look for the USDA Organic seal to be sure all ingredients are organic.