Light, fat-free, sugar-free, heart healthy, all natural, low sodium, cholesterol free—these are just some of the buzz words and phrases that manufacturers use to make you believe their products are good for you! It’s up to you to understand what these things mean so you don’t get duped! The place where you will find the most important information is the ingredient list. Remember, the items that appear at the top of the list are the items that are in the highest quantity. Therefore if sugar, sucrose, fructose, corn syrup, molasses, high fructose corn syrup or any other “–ose” word is within the top six or seven ingredients, beware and compare.
Compare the ingredient labels on organic items to those on non-organic/conventional food items and you will see a dramatic difference. Chances are that you’ll recognize most of the ingredients in organic products. They are real foods that occur naturally on earth. On the other hand, the non-organic food items have ingredients that you probably can’t even pronounce let alone recognize. They are chemical additives and preservatives that your body doesn’t need or want.
Here’s a short glossary of some of the terms you have to be aware of when you’re grocery shopping for a healthy lifestyle:
Light: less fat per serving but a “light” food can still be very high in calories and can still contain chemicals and preservatives.
Fat-free: no fat but look for chemical fat substitutes and sugar content.
Sugar-free: no sugar but may contain man-made chemical sugar substitutes.
Heart Healthy: low in cholesterol and saturated fat, but a heart healthy food can be refined or processed which is still bad for your heart
All Natural: the product is not man-made, but it can still have added chemicals to preserve it
Cholesterol Free: no cholesterol but a cholesterol-free food can still contain high amounts of sugar, sodium, additives and preservatives.
Certified Organic: the only label that guarantees there are no chemical additives or preservatives, although it is still important to read the ingredients so that you find the best brands and products. Remember if it is wrapped, canned, or in a box it is probably processed. Organic does not mean unprocessed, it just means there are no chemicals. It’s your responsibility to find the least processed organic foods by choosing items that are high in fiber.