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What words on food product labels should I avoid?

Toby Smithson
Nutrition & Dietetics
Words that indicate saturated fat like butter, hydrogenated vegetable oil, coconut oil, palm oil, palm kernel oil, cocoa butter, meat fat, lard, egg yolks, cream or cheese.

A sugar is a sugar, so if you are trying to limit your sugar intake, watch for words in the ingredients list such as honey, agave syrup, brown sugar, raw sugar, cane sugar, dextrin, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, malt syrup, syrup, maple syrup and molasses.
Though many food and nutrition experts agree that no foods should be completely banned from your diet if you really want to eat them, they also agree that certain ingredients, methods of preparing foods and marketing terms should put you on alert and force you to further assess whether or not it’s a good choice to eat them at all, or even in moderation.

Terms like “creamy,” “white sauce,” “trans fat,” and “partially hydrogenated fat” should be avoided most of the time.

Terms like “natural,” “naturally sweetened,” “sugar-free,” “trans fat free,” “fiber-fortified,” and “fortified” should inspire you to do some detective work or consult with an expert so you are able to evaluate the product objectively to see if you are really getting a healthier product.

Navigating the supermarket and processed foods in general can be truly daunting, so consider consulting with a health professional who has the expertise to help you evaluate foods for their healthful qualities (or not). Even one visit with this professional can help you to create a balanced diet that targets your personal goals.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.