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4 “Healthy” Buzzwords to Avoid While Grocery Shopping

Ever wondered if the labels on packaging actually mean what they say? Do you ever get confused on whether or not you need to spend the extra cash on products because they claim to be healthy? It’s easy to get caught up in misleading labels - take a look at these 4 common examples.


Cholesterol Free

To keep it simple, cholesterol is made in the liver of animals (including humans); therefore, in order to consume cholesterol, it must be coming from a direct animal source such as dairy, meat/fish and eggs. Spending extra cash on “cholesterol-free” items that are plant-based (such as crackers and popcorn) is a waste of that extra dime - the 6 dollar product is no different than the 2 dollar one right beside it.


Also, keep in mind that just because a label claims to be ‘cholesterol-free’ does not necessarily mean it is healthy. For example, a bag of frozen deep fried pickles in corn oil with a ‘cholesterol-free’ label is not necessarily healthy due to its very high fat (and sodium) content.



Fat Free

Firstly, a fat free label does not mean that there are zero grams of fat. In fact, the term “fat free” is defined by a product that contains less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving. Be sure to check the serving size and compare your true portion to that.


And secondly, although limiting fat may seem appealing to many, fat is very crucial to help our bodies function every day. Our bodies need healthy fat to help absorb essential nutrients such as vitamins A,D,E,K and to provide healthy brain function. And, most processed baked goods (cakes, cookies, crackers, etc) that are fat free are higher in added sugar to fill the missing place of fat. (This does not apply to milks; skim or fat free milk simply has the fat skimmed away and no extra sugar is added).

So, instead of reaching for the fat-free granola bar, try going for one made with healthy fats such as nuts and seeds with 6 grams of sugar or less.



This one needs a disclaimer – it’s not exactly something you should avoid altogether, but rather take with a grain of salt. The term organic is not always what it seems and that is why this term is a tricky one. If a product states it is “organic” and contains a USDA organic sticker, this means that 95% or more of the ingredients have been processed and grown without chemicals such as pesticides or fertilizers. Now, if the product says “made with organic ingredients”, it means that 70% of the ingredients in the product are within the USDA guidelines.

Another thing to remember is that just because something says it is USDA organic or is made with organic ingredients does not mean it is healthy for you. That means the 8 dollar box of 4 double chocolate chunk cookies made with organic cane sugar is not worth your investment. And it’s not very healthy for you either. Remember, processed foods that are deemed “organic” are still processed foods.


Buying organic really comes into play when you’re buying whole fruits and vegetables to understand what chemicals are used in production. Check out these previous blog posts for more information:



This label can be found almost everywhere you look in the store. The bad news is the term “Natural” has not been defined by the FDA and therefore it can be advertised on just about anything. From peanut butter to juices, chips, sodas… even Cheetos. You name it. Slapping the word ‘Natural’ onto any product is going to trick about anyone in the store who is looking to shop healthy in a fast and efficient way. Most shoppers believe that when something is natural, it means that it is free of pesticides, GMOS and other processing chemicals, right?


Unfortunately, that is not the case. The bag of ‘natural’ potato chips that you see at your grocery store is as far as ‘natural’ can get. Potato chips are usually high in fat, salt and contain preservatives such as nitrogen, sodium phosphate, ascorbic acid, sodium bisulfite, emulsifirs and dextrose; thus concluding that this product is a processed food hiding behind a ‘natural’ label. Definitely not natural if you ask me.


If you want REAL natural potato chips, try this at- home recipe instead:





In summary, make sure to look at the nutrition and ingredient label before placing that item into your chart. Sometimes the labels do mean what they say but do check the back of the product before making that purchase.


 FDA "Natural" on Food Labeling

 FDA Nutritional Labeling for Potato Chips


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With more than 40-year years of experience in delivering wellness and weight loss programs, the Duke Diet and Fitness Center has established itself as one of the leading weight loss and total body health destinations for health conscious individuals seeking a residential style health program focused on natural weight loss.

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