What do Health Buzzwords Really Mean?
Organic, no GMO, made with real fruit juice, but what do they all really mean? With so many different trends and health buzzwords out there, how do you know what you are eating and what you should be eating? Let's take a look at the most common health buzzwords and what they really mean.
Copyright (c) 2014 LifeWorks Integrative health
Food labeling can often be misleading. Research suggests that it is all too easy for food labels to mislead consumers about a product's actual nutritional worth. Health buzzwords create certain stigmas around foods. They often imply that a food is much better for you than it actually is. If there is a health statement label on a food trying to make a case for how healthy a food is, the food is generally not as healthy as these health buzzwords make it out to be. Let's take a look at common health buzzwords to look out for and what these buzzwords really mean for you.
Common Health Buzzwords:
1. Organic. Organic is one of those health buzzwords that continues to pop up more and more. A report released by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consumers are willing to pay top dollar for organic products because they believe they are healthier than products that are not marked as organic. However, organic does not always mean healthier. By law, the word organic means non-essential pesticides and fertilizers were not used in the harvesting process of a particular food. Organic does not mean that a food contains fewer calories or that a food is extremely nutritious for you. However, organic products are going to tend to be less contaminated than your conventional fruits and vegetables.
2. Multigrain. Products, that are considered to be multigrain, endure an intense refining process that strips out the bran and germ of the grain. This also takes most of the nutritional value along with it. Many multigrain products use added flavorings and dyes to seem more nutritional. Speaking of grain, health buzzwords, whole grain is another term that can be misleading. Some canned pastas are labeled as whole grain. However, they contain little nutritional value and can contain up to 30 percent of the recommended daily sodium intake in just one serving.
3. Gluten-Free. Gluten-free is one of those health buzzwords that has many people cutting gluten from their diet. However, only one percent of the population has celiac disease. Celiac disease is a condition where the body is unable to process gluten. If you are not in this one percent of individuals, the benefits of going gluten-free are very much questionable. What is gluten? Gluten is a protein that is found in grains such as rye, wheat and barley. Gluten-free products contain no gluten. They often contain fats and sugars to help make for a more pleasant taste.
4. Antioxidant, Immunity Support. Chances are you have seen at least one label with "antioxidant, immunity support" listed on it. These common health buzzwords have little evidence to support that when added to foods or supplements that they have any benefits to your health. The words "immunity support" are virtually meaningless. All nutrients can help with your immune system in some way or another. This label can be especially troubling when seen on a soft drink label. It wrongly implies that soft drinks have health benefits.
5. Made with Real Fruit. The health buzzwords "made with real fruit" often raise the question of how much real fruit a product is actually made with. One serving of a particular fruit may only contain a few drops of real fruit. When a product makes this claim, some consumers are tricked into believing that the product is just as healthy as consuming an apple or a banana.
6. Reduced Fat, Low Sugar. Wouldn't it be nice if all of our favorite foods tasted great and were reduced fat as well as low in sugar? It is important to remember that the original versions of these reduced fat, low sugar items are generally very high in fat and sugar to begin with. With the reduced level product, the product is likely to better, but still very unhealthy for you. These health buzzwords are often seen on products such as baked goods, chips and mayo. Keep in mind that these foods are often very high in sodium and lack nutritional value.
7. No GMOs. This claim is completely irrelevant to health. There is no evidence that foods derived from genetically engineered plants pose any risk to your health. Most foods that have been flagged as containing GMO use sugar, soybean oil or other ingredients that are derived from genetically engineered plants. These ingredients normally do not contain genetically engineered proteins or DNA.
With so many trends in what to eat and what not to eat, it is important to realize that everything that may seem healthy for you is not necessarily as healthy as it may seem. Health buzzwords may cause you to change your diet or invest in more costly foods. However, this does not necessarily mean that you are improving your health.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matthew Gianforte, DC serves Kansas City and Johnson County focusing on the underlying cause of disease through a whole systems approach with Functional Medicine, Chiropractic, and weight loss. Stop managing symptoms and start treating the underlying cause of disease, thereby addressing our chronic disease epidemic. Connect on Facebook, and Google+.