What are we eating and what do the labels mean??!

Walk into any grocery store and we are immediately bombarded with labels: “Low fat” “blue menu” “low sugar” “low calories”, its no wonder everyone is so confused about what they are supposed to be eating!

So as a result people are choosing “natural”, or “real” but is THAT label even what it seems?

First of all — the claim that something is “real” should be alarming in itself, because, well, why would we be eating it if we didn’t think it was real in the first place—- yikes.

But “natural” is the label that bothers me the most. There are definitely some foods out there labeled natural that are in fact healthy products  true to their labels. But when the food industry knows that consumers are trying to eat “natural” foods, they will adjust their labels to make it seem as though they are following suit.

Not to pick on schneiders– but heres a good example– their “country natural” products, aren’t bad in the lunch meat category that usually has a TON of crap in it– but there are a couple things that strike me as “false advertising” in their products.. their oven roasted turkey breast for example claims “just the good stuff” and then lists the ingredients as turkey, water, sea salt, vinegar, lemon juice concentrate… all sounds pretty good… but then you come across “cultured celery extract”— sounds like vegetables right?

personally I thought the same thing- so i did a little research of my own

– well cultured celery extract is a preservative– Ya I know, the label says “no preservatives”, but since this preservative comes from a natural source than they can get away with it—i guess….

But is it healthy?? Most definitely not! — cultured celery extract is actually nitrates and nitrites from a “natural source” — so still the same nitrates that go into every lunch meat except here they are allowed to disguise it…

There is a great book published in 2011 called “Nitrite and Nitrate in Human Health and disease” by Bryan, Nathan S. Loscalzo, Joseph which is worth a read if you are looking for some more information, but here’s some of the things I came across worth noting.

-Nitric oxide (NO) is an important signalling molecule  in the nervous system, the immune system, and the cardiovascular system. It is naturally found in our bodies and becomes oxidized to nitrite and then nitrate

-NO is important in getting rid of free radicals in our body (reactive molecules that can cause damage to tissues and lead to disease), BUT too much NO can increase them

-Major dietary sources of nitrate come from vegetables, which naturally receive their nitrates from the soil that they are grown in (the amount decreases after washing, peeling, cooking etc). Nitrates are also found in  drinking water, as well as processed meats.

These points all highlight the important role nitrates play in the maintenance of health, however, there can ALWAYS be too much of a good thing (other than chocolate of course). Too much nitrite/nitrate consumption has been associated with gastrointestinal cancers, thyroid dysfunction, and thyroid cancer.. to name a few.

The reason why fruits and vegetables are not associated with cancer is a result of the combination of the low nitrate levels and the naturally occurring antioxidants and vitamins, diminishing any potential negative effects nitrates might have. Processed meats on the other hand, are not equipped with this buffer.

So why is choosing foods that are healthy for you SO difficult???

our “low fat” labels are often packed with sugar, and on the other end our “low sugar” labels are often packed with fat. “Low calorie” is not even necessary depending on what you are eating, and what does “natural” even mean???????

Heres my advice– do NOT be fooled by labels, these are created by companies who have ONE interest in mind, THEIR own… all they want to do is make money and are willing to bend the labelling rules as much as they can in order to appeal to consumers ( this is true for most companies)

BE INFORMED- if something looks “natural”- READ THE INGREDIENTS— do you recognize everything? is there anything you cant pronounce? ASK QUESTIONS- email companies, demand more!— companies won’t put out things they can’t sell– its the consumers who should be in control of what they are eating!

The bottom line is to try to eat WHOLE foods- I know life is crazy and meals need to be quick, but you should at LEAST know what you are putting into your body. Thankfully there ARE some companies that create products with only the ingredients necessary to make that product– choose those!

And finally, take your time finding these products- it is important to be picky when it comes choosing foods for you and your family to eat!