Dummy’s Guide to Food Labeling

Nowadays there’s an abundance of ‘health foods’ on supermarket shelves, aisles dedicated to organics, yogurts ‘straight from the farm’ and an array of gluten-free, biodynamic, free-range, ethically harvested delights. But are they really healthy or is it food-marketing dancing on a fine line.

No fat, low fat, low sugar, ‘made with real fruit’… what does it all mean? Whenever I’m doing the ghastly chore of supermarket shopping it never ceases to amaze me how many people endlessly look at the food nutrition labels. Like any health-minded person it is important to know what’s in the foods you buy but if you don’t understand what you’re looking at then it’s like reading a book in Japanese – extremely pointless.

Many years ago I ignorantly thought the ‘healthiest’ milk was of the trim variety and that anything labeled ‘lite’, ‘low’ or ‘real’ were my good friends. How very wrong I was. Many products may highlight the fact that they have no fat content or zero sugar but they will neglect to mention that the processing and elimination of those sugars and fats may in fact make it incredibly hard for your body to digest thus delivering little nutritional value and putting strain on your digestive system.

So here’s a quick lesson on food labeling. Get educated and make healthier product choices next time you’re at the supermarket.

The Dummy’s Guide to Food Label claims:

Low salt
 The food must contain no more than 120mg of sodium per 100g. The recommended maximum salt intake for an adult is 6g per day, though less is obviously better.

Low fat
 Products that are low in one thing could be high in another, creating a food that’s not all that low in calories. When manufacturers lower the fat in a food, many times the sugar content increases.

Light or lite A very vague claim that could mean less sugar, fat, sodium, energy or may refer to it being light in colour or taste.

Made with ‘real fruit’ or ‘real fruit juice’  There is no real law that requires a minimum amount of real fruit for a product to make this claim. For instance, a splash of lemon juice in a product is enough.

No added sugar
 The food may still contain a lot of natural sugar. The sugars on the nutrition information panel refers both to added sugars and sugar that’s naturally present. Most foods contain some sugar.

Natual, pure or ‘real’ Again this is another very vague claim. There’s no legal definition for the use of these terms. It is simply marketing speak.

Cholesterol free
 This is one of my favourite food claims. This benefit is usually appears on products that are naturally cholesterol free. Dietary cholesterol is only found in foods of animal origin.

Made with wholegrains Almost every cereal box we see has a wholegrain logo slapped on the front of it marketing it as a ‘healthy’ product. In reality there is a very small amount of whole grains that are usually refined meaning it does nothing for your health. You can only trust the term “100 percent whole grain” to be a healthy choice.

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About the author
New Zealand based Nature Bee was born in 1997 when Jeff and Ben Cook joined forces. The father / son team discovered a special process developed by Canterbury University, still considered to be ground breaking today, that unlocks the nutrients of bee pollen, making it far more digestible than normal bee pollen. This proprietary process was later to be named the ‘potentiation process' and is continually used only by Nature Bee on their New Zealand bee pollen. Nature Bee is now available in almost every country in the world.

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