I’ve been thinking about this post for a while now! There are so many things that sometimes trip me up at the store I think to myself if this confuses me “the RD” then it probably confuses other people too right? So I thought I’d put a post together, so you don’t get tripped up as well!
1. Multigrain or 12 Grains
What you think it means: It’s full of health WHOLE grains that are better for you. Unlike refined flour, whole grains have not been stripped of fiber, protein, and nutrients. So, they are recommended as part of a healthy diet, and so you grab the loaf of the healthy expensive looking bread.
What it actually 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: Look for 100% whole wheat or 100% whole grain on the front of the package. 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 as is. (See What is a healthy carb.)
What you think it means: You picture cows grazing on a field their entire lives. You are looking for grass-fed meat because you heard it’s better for you (more omega 3’s, antioxidants, and leaner).
What it actually means: All cows are grass-fed at some point in their life.
What you need to look for: Look for the words 100% grass-fed before you spend any extra money! This includes on restaurant menus. (PS this is one of the main reasons I order most, if not all, of my red meat from Butcher Box.) See why grass-fed meat is healthier.
3. No Added Sugar
What you think it means: Maybe you think it’s a sugar-free food, healthier for you, or lower in carbs.
What it actually means: It’s either been packed with artificial sweeteners OR it’s a food that naturally contained enough sugar it didn’t need a sweetener (like juice.)
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 (there is a ton review the listen often.) Also, still look at the grams of sugar on the label.
What you think it means: It’s healthier, it doesn’t have any of that nasty gluten people talk about.
What it actually 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. My husband needs it, I opt for it most of the time, but I don’t just grab a gluten-free product because it says gluten-free. Also, its possible its a product like dried fruit, nuts, or meat that may have never had gluten in it anways.
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 (should that product have had gluten in it, to begin with?). Etc.
What you think it means: Proteins good, it helps us build lean, healthy bodies right? Everyone is all about the protein, the more, the better!
What it actually means: If it’s not a whole food source that would naturally have protein like eggs, dairy, and meat then it’s been stuffed with concentrated protein. The most common protein sources used are whey, soy, and concentrated gluten.
What you need to look for: Trust me I’m all about the halo top, but that doesn’t mean that should be a every day free for all. Concentrated sources of protein like whey, gluten, and soy are hard on the digestive system and should not replace protein sources from whole foods. (How to get enough protein.)
6. Cage-free & Pasteur Centered
What you think it means: Hens roaming about a farm at will.
What it actually means: Cage-free often means they are not kept in cages but kept in close quarters on the barn floor. Pasture centered sometimes means they are kept in cages on the pasture.
What you need to look for: My suggestion is to do your research ahead of time if you care about the humane treatment of chickens. There is a very little difference in egg nutrition quality when it comes to how the chicken is housed, at least not yet.
7. Vegetarian Fed Eggs
What you think it means: Chickens are being fed a healthy diet free of meat bi-product.
What it actually means: Chickens are being fed a diet free of meat bi-product and substituted with a ton of soy, not a natural food for them. Also, chickens are naturally omnivores, so this never makes sense to me.
What you need to look for: A brand that doesn’t advertise vegetarian feed, you can be pretty sure they aren’t getting any access to the outdoors if they are eating 100% vegetarian.
8. Trans fat-free
What you think it means: Free of artery-clogging trans fat.
What it actually means: It might be free of artery-clogging trans fat.
What you need to look for: If the word partially hydrogenated is in the ingredient list, there are still trace amounts up to a certain level. Peanut butter, shelf-stable snacks, and margarine are huge culprits here!
9. All Natural
What you think it means: It’s healthy, pure, and good for you.
What it actually means: Who knows, this claim is not regulated. I’ve seen this label on all kinds of things I would not consider 100% natural.
What you need to look for: Read your ingredient list.
What you think it means: It’s healthy, pure, and free of pesticides.
What it actually means: A number of tightly regulated standards have been followed, however, the product may not be 100% organic. Furthermore, organic produce still is exposed to “natural pesticides.”
What you need to look for: I stick to the dirty dozen tips when deciding what to purchase organic. I specifically showed a picture of dairy because I’m torn on that one. The research shows a potential benefit to organic, but when the studies were done, there was no separation between grass-fed organic and organic. My suspicion is that grassfed organic matters more.
Of potential interest:
- 10 Practical Tips to Save Money Eating Healthy
- How I Make Weekly Meal Plans
- Which Foods To Buy Organic
- Egg Whites vs Egg Yolk Standoff
- Is PB & J a Health Food?
- Health Benefits of Chia
- Why You Should Drink This Skinny Green Tea Frappuccino!
- Health Benefits of Shrimp
- Can Bacon Fit Into A Healthy Diet? (National Bacon Lovers Day)
- Eggs: Super Bad or Superfood?
- Is Bread Healthy?
- Health Benefits of Hempseeds