1. MULTIGRAIN OR 12 GRAINS

What you may think it means
It’s full of healthy whole grains that are good for you.  Whole grains have not been stripped of fiber, protein, and nutrients.

What it means
Multi means many types of grains which may or may not be whole.  Same with 12, it means 12 types of grains which may or may not be refined.

What to look for
Inspect the ingredient list, all types of grains should have the word “whole” in front of them like whole wheat, whole rye, whole spelt, etc. If it doesn’t say whole, it’s a refined grain, with the exception being brown rice and oats.  Brown rice and oats are whole naturally. Also, don’t go by color alone! Some darker breads have coloring and are no healthier than refined white breads.

For Example: The following would be better options.

bread2.jpg

2. NO ADDED SUGAR

What you think it means
A sugar-free food, healthier for you, or lower in carbs.

What it means
It’s either been packed with artificial sweeteners OR it’s a food that naturally contains enough sugar. A no sugar added product doesn’t mean a product is calorie- or carbohydrate-free.

What you need to look for
Read the ingredient lists, learn the names of artificial sweeteners (sucralose, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, and just about anything that ends in -tol) and learn the names of sugar. Fruit, cereals, and vegetables naturally contain sugar. Although these products may not have added sugar, they still may contain natural sugars.

3. GLUTEN-FREE

What you may think it means
It’s healthier option.

gluten.jpg

What it means
Maybe, or maybe not. If you are choosing between 100% whole wheat bread and a gluten-free bread full of refined gluten-free flours like potato starch and rice flour, then, maybe not.  That depends on if you need gluten free.

Also, it’s possible a product such as dried fruit, nuts, or meat may have never had gluten. Since gluten free is a “buzz” word, manufacturers like to place on labels. Hence, a marketing tool to sell food items.

What you need to look for
Using the tips above look at the ingredient list.  Are the gluten-free flours whole grains like brown rice flour, or is it just rice flour?  Assess whether the gluten-free claim even matters. Ask yourself, should that product have gluten to begin with?

4. Trans Fat Free

What you may think it means
Free trans-fat.

What it means
It might be free of trans- fat.

What you need to look for
If the word partially hydrogenated oil and shortening are in the ingredient list, there are still trace amounts up to a certain level.  Peanut butter, shelf-stable snacks, and creamers are huge culprits.

 5. All Natural

What you may think it means
It’s healthy, pure, and good for you.

What it means

Who knows, this claim is not regulated. Top of the list for the most misleading food labelling term around is “natural”.  Natural food should be something nature creates or grows and is thus not interfered with or produced by humans.…hence “healthy.”

What you need to look for
Read your ingredient list.

Bottom line
ALWAYS read your food label & ingredient list.

Carol Aguirre MS, RD/LDN