It’s easy to get swept up in the hype of health food buzzwords when you’re trying to overhaul your own diet and lifestyle choices. While we may think that going for anything labelled organic or superfood is the best thing for us, it pays to be aware of how food companies can mislead consumers with the placement of clever buzzwords. Not to mention, not all buzzwords mean exactly what we think they mean.
Here are six health food buzzwords and what they really mean.
Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. Gluten-free products are free from these grains; however many have added sugar and fat to recreate a taste or texture that was lost with the grains. Going gluten-free is usually only required for people with celiac disease.
Using the term ‘organic’ isn’t regulated in Australia and as such any food retailer can slap the word on their product. What you should really be looking for is ‘certified organic’ from a relevant industry food authority.
Antioxidants are compounds in food that scavenge and neutralise free radicals; free radicals damage cell membranes and other structures and antioxidants reduce that effect. If a product is labelled as containing a high level of antioxidants, it's been fortified with non-naturally occurring compounds. These foods cannot undo the effects of a bad diet. Eating a balanced diet full of fruit, vegetables and protein will do the trick.
If something is labelled as naturally sweetened it means that agave nectar, honey, stevia or xylitol has been used to sweeten it up. This doesn’t make the product any better for you, and you should still eat these foods in moderation.
The term ‘GI’ refers to how fast a carbohydrate is absorbed into the body and raises the sugar levels in your blood. Food that is Low GI will help you sustain energy for longer.
Reasonably obvious, a low-fat label refers to the reduced amount of fat in a product. However, fat is often replaced by sugar and additives to boost the flavour. Keep in mind that low-fat doesn’t mean low in sugar or low in kilojoules.
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