10 Vitamin Buzzwords You Must Know

You realize to not choose a ebook by its cowl, however what a few cereal field or a bag of potato chips? Are you able to belief these vitamin  buzzwords — like “natural,” “mild,” or “fat-free” — to information you towards the healthiest choices?

The excellent news: Meals labeling is fairly tightly regulated.

The FDA not solely regulates nutritional labels, but additionally any health claims made on packaging, corresponding to “low in fats,” “wonderful supply of fiber,” or “might cut back the chance of coronary heart illness.”

Meals labels additionally have to adjust to USDA regulations and the FTC’s truth-in-advertising laws.

The unhealthy information: There are such a lot of dietary phrases that sound wholesome, and it may be laborious to recollect what every time period actually means.

The wording on a meals label “is definitely a fairly sophisticated matter,” says Natalie Rizzo, M.S., R.D., of Nutrition à la Natalie. “At the same time as a dietitian, it’s troublesome for me to discern all of those phrases with out trying them up.”

Nonetheless, Rizzo says, it’s essential for customers to be educated on these phrases.

We’ve damaged down among the commonest wording used on meals labels, so you recognize which phrases you possibly can belief and which can be nothing greater than a advertising and marketing ploy.

Which Dietary Phrases Can I Belief?

The next phrases are regulated and may usually be trusted.

(However you continue to have to be careful for “health halos” — for instance, you possibly can belief that an natural cookie is unquestionably natural, however that doesn’t imply you possibly can eat as a lot as you need.)

“USDA Natural”

USDA Organic label

That is most likely one of the tightly regulated phrases.

For meats, the USDA organic seal verifies that livestock is produced with out genetic engineering; raised in a means that conserves pure sources and biodiversity; allowed year-round entry to the outside; raised on licensed natural land; fed 100% licensed natural feed; managed with out antibiotics and added progress hormones; and raised in a means that “accommodates their well being and pure conduct.”

For boxed items and produce, Rizzo says, there are literally 4 totally different ways in which “organic” can appear in labeling:

  • “100% natural” vouches for all of the elements within the product (apart from salt and water). These merchandise can use the USDA natural seal.
  • “Natural” can be utilized on any product that incorporates a minimal of 95 % natural elements. These merchandise may use the USDA natural seal.
  • “Made with natural elements” is used to label a product with not less than 70 % organically produced elements. This time period is regulated by the USDA, however these merchandise don’t carry the official USDA natural seal.
  • In merchandise that include lower than 70 % natural contents, particular natural elements (ex. “natural tapioca syrup”) could also be listed within the elements checklist on the again of the label.


The importance of this time period varies for several types of meat, Rizzo says.

For pork or poultry, “no hormones” doesn’t actually imply a lot, since federal rules prohibit using hormones in these animals to start out with.

In beef, the place hormones generally are used, “no hormones added” confirms none had been used within the elevating of the cows.


If the USDA can verify the animals had been raised with out antibiotics, this label can be used for purple meat and poultry.


Gluten free food label

The FDA now requires meals labeled “gluten-free,” “no gluten,” “freed from gluten,” and “with out gluten” to include lower than 20 elements per million of gluten, which is taken into account a safe threshold for somebody with Celiac illness.

Nonetheless, somebody with a extreme gluten intolerance or gluten allergy might should avoid any traces of gluten — so it’s essential to know your tolerance degree and never simply depend on labeling.

And once more — watch out for well being halos: “gluten-free” doesn’t imply “calorie-free” or “carb-free.”

“No Added Sugars”

In keeping with the Definitions of Nutrient Content material Claims within the FDA’s Food Labeling Guide, this time period can be utilized provided that no extra sugar — or no extra elements containing sugar — have been added to the product.

Since 2020, all meals are required to have the quantity of “added sugar” listed individually from the full sugar content material on the Nutrition Facts label.

This helps make clear which sugars happen naturally in a meals, and which have been added — for instance, milk incorporates pure sugar within the type of lactose; chocolate milk usually incorporates added sugar to sweeten the beverage.

Which Vitamin Buzzwords Can Be Deceiving?

The phrases beneath are regulated, however they’ll nonetheless be deceptive relating to figuring out how wholesome a meals is or isn’t.


Meals with this label include lower than 0.5 gram of fats per serving. Sounds wholesome, however most of us don’t really have to keep away from consuming fats.

And make sure to verify the serving dimension — some corporations manipulate the serving dimension to be tremendous small with a view to fall inside this vary, says Jeff Scot Philips, licensed nutritionist and writer of Huge Fats Meals Fraud.


Sugar falling from spoon

This implies the meals incorporates lower than 0.5 g of sugars per serving, Rizzo explains. However the identical serving-size subject applies right here because it does for fat-free meals.

And the FDA doesn’t distinguish between added sugars and pure sugars — an apple isn’t “sugar-free” — so that you’re higher off in search of meals with “no added sugar.”


This product has both 50% much less fats or 33% fewer energy in comparison with the “common” model of the identical meals.

The issue?

“Whereas it’s nice to have fewer energy, generally when fats is taken out, sugar is added as a replacement,” Rizzo says.

(That’s as a result of a gram of fat contains 9 calories, whereas a gram of sugar incorporates 4 energy.)

While you choose up a “mild” product, search for added sugars on the checklist of elements.

Which Dietary Phrases Are Purple Flags?

These healthy-sounding phrases aren’t at all times all they’re cracked as much as be.

Seeing these buzzwords doesn’t imply a meals is unhealthy — it simply means you must learn the Vitamin Details label and ingredient lists for more information.


Public well being suggestions have drastically modified over the previous twenty years — specifically towards accepting wholesome sorts of fats — and the FDA is working to redefine what “healthy” means on a food label.

Within the meantime, producers might put wholesome on their labels if their meals aren’t low in whole fats, however have a fats profile make-up of predominantly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat, or they include not less than 10% of the Day by day Worth of potassium or vitamin D, Rizzo explains. (Confused but?)

Whereas fat are getting probably the most consideration proper now, the FDA can also be reevaluating its requirements for added sugars in meals labeled wholesome.

Till they attain an official normal, although, the time period “wholesome” positively doesn’t assure the product is definitely good for you — simply that it most likely incorporates some helpful vitamins.

“Naturally Flavored”

We’re all for consuming complete meals, however there’s no clear-cut definition for use of the term “natural” on food labels.

This will likely simply imply the flavoring comes from a pure supply — like spices or herbs — however it doesn’t imply you’re consuming complete, unprocessed meals.

“The elements nonetheless may very well be extremely processed, manipulated, and added in extremely irregular portions to the tip meals,” Philips says. “Simply because a meals incorporates ‘naturally flavored’ elements doesn’t imply that the whole thing of the tip product is in any means pure.”

Backside line, this one is commonly only a feel-good promoting time period.