How Food Labels Trick You Into Buying Unhealthy Food
While originally intended to provide clear nutritional facts, food labels have devolved into a confusing and dangerously deceptive source of information. Big Food companies add cancer-causing chemicals without disclosure and manipulate regulatory loopholes to trick you into buying their products.
Because they must fit a set format, food labels can mislead you into thinking you’re getting the same nutrients from what are very different foods (1).
Or, they use marketing buzzwords to make a product seem healthy on the surface and then hide a long list of unhealthy additives in the small print.
Here are three ways food labels trick you, and how you can fight back.
1. They Use Misleading Marketing Buzzwords
Big Food marketers are well aware that people are increasingly concerned with their health. But instead of making their food actually healthy, they highlight an element to trick buyers into believing they are making healthy choices, like “fat-free” or “sugar-free.”
The Fat-Free Buzzword
First of all, fat-free does NOT mean a food is healthy. Our bodies actually need essential fatty acids for healthy brain function, cardiovascular health, and more. However, the ‘eating-fat-makes-you-fat’ myth persists.
But when manufacturers remove the fat from food, it tastes exceptionally bland. To make up for the lack of flavor, they add refined sugar, high amounts of salt, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and several other ingredients that are much worse than the naturally occurring fat.
The Sugar-Free Buzzword
Just because a product contains calorie-free artificial sweeteners instead of sugar does not mean it’s healthy. In fact, researchers have found that consuming artificial sweeteners can make you gain weight, disrupt your healthy gut bacteria, cause migraines, and even increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (2).
The Heart-Healthy Buzzword
Another misleading claim you will see on many products is that it is heart-healthy. More often than not, you will see this on low-sodium foods.
But just because something is low in sodium does not mean it’s good for the heart. Some brands of chicken soup, for example, claim to be heart-healthy, yet they contain canola or soy oil. Evidence suggests that consuming refined vegetable oil can trigger inflammation and significantly increase the risk of heart disease (3, 4).