10 Vitamin Buzzwords You Must Know

You already know to not decide a e-book by its cowl, however what a few cereal field or a bag of potato chips? Are you able to belief these diet  buzzwords — like “natural,” “gentle,” 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, akin to “low in fats,” “glorious supply of fiber,” or “could cut back the chance of coronary heart illness.”

Meals labels additionally must 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 exhausting to recollect what every time period actually means.

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

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

We’ve damaged down among the most typical wording used on meals labels, so you understand 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 typically be trusted.

(However you continue to must be careful for “health halos” — for instance, you possibly can belief that an natural cookie is certainly 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 probably the most tightly regulated phrases.

For meats, the USDA organic seal verifies that livestock is produced with out genetic engineering; raised in a method that conserves pure assets 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 method that “accommodates their well being and pure conduct.”

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

  • “one hundred pc natural” vouches for all of the components within the product (apart from salt and water). These merchandise can use the USDA natural seal.
  • “Natural” can be utilized on any product that accommodates a minimal of 95 p.c natural components. These merchandise can even use the USDA natural seal.
  • “Made with natural components” is used to label a product with no less than 70 p.c organically produced components. 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 p.c natural contents, particular natural components (ex. “natural tapioca syrup”) could also be listed within the components listing on the again of the label.


The importance of this time period varies for various kinds of meat, Rizzo says.

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

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


If the USDA can affirm the animals have 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 components 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 could need to avoid any traces of gluten — so it’s necessary to know your tolerance stage 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 further sugar — or no further components 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 accommodates pure sugar within the type of lactose; chocolate milk sometimes accommodates added sugar to sweeten the beverage.

Which Vitamin Buzzwords Can Be Deceiving?

The phrases beneath are regulated, however they’ll nonetheless be deceptive with regards 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 truly must keep away from consuming fats.

And you’ll want to examine the serving measurement — some firms manipulate the serving measurement to be tremendous small with the intention to fall inside this vary, says Jeff Scot Philips, licensed nutritionist and creator of Large Fats Meals Fraud.


Sugar falling from spoon

This implies the meals accommodates 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 searching for 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 accommodates 4 energy.)

Once you decide up a “gentle” product, search for added sugars on the listing of components.

Which Dietary Phrases Are Pink 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 should learn the Vitamin Info label and ingredient lists for more information.


Public well being suggestions have drastically modified over the previous 20 years — particularly towards accepting wholesome sorts of fats — and the FDA is working to redefine what “healthy” means on a food label.

Within the meantime, producers could put wholesome on their labels if their meals are usually not low in complete fats, however have a fats profile make-up of predominantly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat, or they include no less than 10% of the Every day Worth of potassium or vitamin D, Rizzo explains. (Confused but?)

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

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

“Naturally Flavored”

We’re all for consuming entire 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 — nevertheless it doesn’t imply you’re consuming entire, unprocessed meals.

“The components nonetheless could possibly be extremely processed, manipulated, and added in extremely irregular portions to the tip meals,” Philips says. “Simply because a meals accommodates ‘naturally flavored’ components doesn’t imply that everything of the tip product is in any method pure.”

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