What Healthy Food Labels Really Say
One of the most important aspects of living a healthy lifestyle is eating the right foods. After undergoing weight surgery in North Miami, it is important to sustain healthy choices by making sure you are eating the right foods. Part of eating the right foods is being able to understand their labels—manufacturers purposefully manipulate graphics, colors and words to entice consumers. So, as you’re losing weight it is more important than ever to know what exactly your health food labels mean.
- “Organic” - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines the word “organic” as plants produced without the use of pesticides or synthetic fertilizers and animals raised without hormones or antibiotics. If the word “organic” appears on your food label, by law it must contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients. If the label has the logo “USDA Organic” on it, it means the product must contain at least 95 percent organic ingredients, so make sure to keep an eye for it.
- “Low-Fat” – Labels displaying this term does not mean the food item is “non-fat”—it means there are 3 grams or less of total fat per serving and low saturated fat means one gram or less. Some food labels display “low calorie” which means there are 40 calories or less per serving. When purchasing meat, poultry and seafood some labels say “lean” or “extra-lean” meaning there are less than 10 grams of fat.
- “Reduced” – The term “reduced” is placed on labels when the food item contains at least 25 percent less of an ingredient than its regular equivalent. For food to be one-third the calories or have half the fat or sodium of the regular product, the terms “light” or “lite” are used.
- “Fresh” – “Fresh” means the food has not been frozen, heated or chemically preserved. When the phrase “fresh frozen” is used it means the food has been frozen and possibly quickly scalded as well to deactivate enzymes in vegetables.
- “Free range” – As per guidelines of the USDA, “free range” may be used on a label as long as outdoor access was made available to the bird for an undetermined period each day. However, when “free range” is displayed on egg carton labels, the USDA has no definition requirements at all. Sometimes you will see the label “grass-fed” which means the cattle must be fed only mother’s milk and greens during their lifetime. Although, these are the definitions according to the USDA, it is important to know the term is only a voluntary requirement. Manufacturers may apply their own definition to certain labels. It is also important to note animals may be “grass fed” but still be given dosages of antibiotics and hormones.
Being able to translate your healthy food labels will help you make healthier choices when purchasing foods. Remember to always purchase foods as close to the source as possible or at least trust and know the reputation of the producer. Reading the ingredient labels and doing your homework on the producer will help consumers make healthier food choices. Combining exercise with healthy eating habits will help you facilitate long term weight loss.