Beware! These 7 misleading “healthy” food labels are actually quite unhealthy
By NCVC Staff | Published on Oct 11, 2023
Remember that feeling of excitement as a kid, eagerly waiting for the burst of a balloon filled with hidden treats, only to find it filled with something unexpected? Well, that’s how misleading food labels can be. The food industry often tricks us into thinking that they prioritize our health and wellness with deceptive labels on their products. But let’s uncover the truth behind seven of these labels:
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1. Low carb
Myth: Many of us believe that carbohydrates make us gain weight. So, when we see a “low-carb” label, we think we’re making a healthy choice and staying on track with our weight-loss goals.
Reality: Let’s say a regular bag of chips has 500 calories. Then a new “low-carb” version comes out, boasting only 450 calories. Seems like a good option, right? But what if the label actually meant “lower carbs,” not “low carbs,” and the reduction is only by 50 calories? Moreover, the processing and addition of harmful ingredients to compensate for the lost taste can be more harmful than helpful.
Myth: The absence of gluten in certain sauces or biscuits might fool you into thinking that you won’t gain weight or experience the consequences of gluten intolerance.
Reality: While it’s true that gluten can cause issues for some, expecting products like barley biscuits or soy sauce with wheat extracts to be completely gluten-free is unrealistic. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found traces of gluten in many products labeled as gluten-free, prompting stricter regulations.
3. Fat-free/no trans fat
Myth: No fat on the label means no fat on your waist. But let’s take a reality check.
Reality: It’s like believing someone who claims to be faithful to you but cheats behind your back. Trans fats, which can clog your arteries, pose a greater risk than other fats. When a product claims to be “no trans fat,” it may still contain other fats. Moreover, the FDA allows products with permissible amounts of trans fat per serving to use the label. And don’t forget, “no-fat” or “low-fat” products often compensate with unhealthy ingredients like sugars, salt, and masalas to maintain taste.
Myth: If a food is labeled “cholesterol-free,” your arteries will stay clear and your heart will be safe.
Reality: Manufacturers can label products as “zero cholesterol” if they contain less than two mg of cholesterol. Similarly, products can be labeled as “low cholesterol” if they have less than 20 mg per serving. But in reality, you’re not completely safe from cholesterol-related issues.
5. Sugar-free/No added sugar
Myth: Cutting out or reducing sugar means fewer calories and a smaller waistline.
Reality: Sugar-free products don’t guarantee lower calorie content. They often substitute sugar with artificial sweeteners, but the other ingredients may not be healthy or non-fattening. On the other hand, “no added sugar” might simply mean that the overall ingredients already contain a high amount of sugar, eliminating the need for additional sugar or sweeteners.
Myth: Products labeled as “multigrain” sound like a wholesome choice, packed with various whole grains and fiber.
Reality: “Multigrain” simply means the product contains different types of grains, not necessarily whole grains. So, you can’t be sure how much real fiber you’re actually getting.
7. High protein
Myth: A packet of “high protein” soya chips might seem like a step closer to achieving your body-building dreams.
Reality: More often than not, the proteins in such products are not derived from healthy sources like animal products or nuts. In fact, the protein might be synthetic, created in a lab.
Don’t let deceptive food labels mislead you. Stay informed and make wise food choices based on reliable information.