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  • Question 1/12

    If it's labeled "natural," it's healthier.

  • Answer 1/12

    If it's labeled "natural," it's healthier.

    • You answered:
    • Correct Answer:

    "Natural" sounds healthy, but it can mean a lot of things.

    The FDA says a package can say this if the food inside doesn't have added color, artificial flavor, or man-made ingredients.

    The USDA lets meat, egg, and poultry products be called "natural" if they are made without artificial ingredients or changed too much during processing.

    But these foods can still be packed with calories, fat, sugar, salt, and carbohydrates, so be sure to read the ingredients. Then compare to others to make the healthiest choice.

  • Question 1/12

    If a food is "lite" or light," it has no fat.

  • Answer 1/12

    If a food is "lite" or light," it has no fat.

    • You answered:
    • Correct Answer:

    No matter how it's spelled on the box, jar, or bag, "lite" or "light," means it has: 

    -- Either 1/3 fewer calories

    -- Or 50% less fat compared to the regular version of that same food

    So it can be a healthier choice. Just beware: Sometimes light versions of food have extra salt or sugar to make them taste better. Read the nutrition facts and ingredients list carefully.

  • Question 1/12

    Free-range chickens spend most of their time outdoors.

  • Answer 1/12

    Free-range chickens spend most of their time outdoors.

    • You answered:
    • Correct Answer:

    "Free range" or "free roaming" means that chickens or other poultry are able to go outside if they want to. According to the National Chicken Council, most chickens like to stay close to their food and water -- which is usually inside.

  • Question 1/12

    A food "made with real fruit" means that it’s mostly fruit.

  • Answer 1/12

    A food "made with real fruit" means that it’s mostly fruit.

    • You answered:
    • Correct Answer:

    When a product claims it's "made with" whole grains, fruits, or vegetables, that doesn’t mean there has to be a lot of it in there. The actual amounts of those healthy ingredients can be pretty small.

    So how would you know if your fruit bites are mostly fruit or mostly sugar? Check the ingredients list to make sure fruit is one of the first ingredients you see on the list.

    In general, words on the front of the package are often just marketing claims. Information on the nutrition facts panel and ingredients list (usually found on the side or back of packaging) are the best way to tell if something is a healthy choice.

  • Question 1/12

    "Fortified" and "enriched" mean the same thing.

  • Answer 1/12

    "Fortified" and "enriched" mean the same thing.

    • You answered:
    • Correct Answer:

    "Fortified" "added," "plus," "enriched," and "extra" all mean the same thing. Extra vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients have been added. You may be most likely to see this on bread or other packaged foods.

    These foods can be healthy, but sometimes they aren't smart choices. Just because cookies and chips have added nutrients doesn't mean they're healthy snacks!

  • Question 1/12

    "Lightly sweetened" means a food is low in sugar.

  • Answer 1/12

    "Lightly sweetened" means a food is low in sugar.

    • You answered:
    • Correct Answer:

    There are rules for what "sugar free" and "no added sugars" means. But "low sugar" and "lightly sweetened" are marketing terms used by companies to suggest that products don't have much sugar. They aren’t regulated by the government. Check the label to see how much sugar you’re getting.

  • Question 1/12

    “Excellent source” of fiber means you’ll get all you need for the day.

  • Answer 1/12

    “Excellent source” of fiber means you’ll get all you need for the day.

    • You answered:
    • Correct Answer:

    You might see this on a package label to brag about how much fiber or calcium a food has in it.

    In reality, this marketing language just means that one serving of the food has to have 20% of the daily value of that nutrient.

  • Question 1/12

    Organic foods are always the healthier choice.

  • Answer 1/12

    Organic foods are always the healthier choice.

    • You answered:
    • Correct Answer:

    Foods labeled "USDA organic" are made under specific guidelines.

    It may give you peace of mind knowing that:

    -- Fruits and vegetables are grown without most pesticides or fertilizers.

    -- Animals are raised without antibiotics or hormones and have room to graze.

    But there's not a lot of research that shows organic foods are more nutritious than non-organic foods. Also, packaged, processed organic foods can still be high in calories, saturated fat, and added sugar. Fresh foods are usually the best choice.

  • Question 1/12

    Which claim means a food doesn’t have any trans fats in it?

  • Answer 1/12

    Which claim means a food doesn’t have any trans fats in it?

    • You answered:
    • Correct Answer:

    It's confusing, but if a label says "zero" trans fats, it can still have as much as 1/2 gram per serving. So if you eat a few servings, it can add up.

    Trans fats are the most unhealthy fats. They can raise your bad cholesterol and boost your chances of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

    When you pick a food to eat, check the label for saturated fats, too. They can raise your cholesterol and often have a lot of calories.

  • Question 1/12

    If it says “whole grains” on the package, you’re getting a lot of the good stuff.

  • Answer 1/12

    If it says “whole grains” on the package, you’re getting a lot of the good stuff.

    • You answered:
    • Correct Answer:

    A food can say "made with whole grain" or "rich in whole grain" even if whole grains aren't one of the main ingredients. It could have lots of refined grains, too, and just a sprinkling of whole grains.

    Instead, look for the Whole Grain Stamp on the package. That means one serving of the food has at least half a serving of whole grains. Also, look for the word “whole” before the name of a grain on the ingredients list. An example is "whole oats." The closer the ingredient is to the beginning of the list, the better.

  • Question 1/12

    "No additives" means nothing was added.

  • Answer 1/12

    "No additives" means nothing was added.

    • You answered:
    • Correct Answer:

    Food companies add stuff to packaged foods all the time. Some things make them taste better. Some make them look better. Some make them last longer.

    This term may make you think that nothing artificial or natural was added to a food. But there's no official definition and no group making sure the claim is true. So, as usual, it's best to check the ingredients list to find out what's in your food.

  • Question 1/12

    "Low," when referring to fat, calories, or cholesterol ...

  • Answer 1/12

    "Low," when referring to fat, calories, or cholesterol ...

    • You answered:
    • Correct Answer:

    This term is regulated and not just hype.

    -- "Low fat" means 3 grams of fat or less per serving.

    -- "Low calories" means 40 calories or less per serving.

    -- "Low cholesterol" means 20 milligrams or less per serving.

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Sources | Reviewed by William Blahd, MD on June 06, 2017 Medically Reviewed on June 06, 2017

Reviewed by William Blahd, MD on
June 06, 2017

IMAGE PROVIDED BY:

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SOURCES:

American Cancer Society: "Understanding Food Terms."

American Diabetes Association: "Natural? Organic? What does it all Mean?"

American Heart Association: "Saturated Fats," "Trans Fats."

Beauchesne, E. Canadian Medical Association Journal , June 9, 2009.

Center for Science in the Public Interest: "Food Labeling Chaos."

FDA: "Guidance for Industry: A Food Labeling Guide (10. Appendix B: Additional Requirements for Nutrient Content Claims)," "Guidance for Industry: A Food Labeling Guide (9. Appendix A: Definitions of Nutrient Content Claims)," "What is the meaning of 'natural' on the label of food?"

GreenerChoices.org: "No additives."

National Chicken Council: "Chickopedia: What Consumers Need to Know."

Smith-Spangler, C. Annals of Internal Medicine , 2012.

USDA: "Meat and Poultry Labeling Terms," "National Organic Program," "Organic Standards."

Whole Grains Council: "Identifying Whole Grain Products."

This tool does not provide medical advice.
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