The mislabeling of food products and their ingredients is nothing new. After all, Naked Juice did just have to pay out nine million dollars to consumers for labeling their products as “Non-GMO” despite the fact that some of the Naked Juice products are said to contain genetically altered soy. And let’s not forget the European horse meat scandal from a few years back where meat labeled as “beef” actually contained horse DNA.

If something as simple as meat can be falsely labeled, what else are we misguided about as consumers? Well, we do know that food product labels are covered with jargon that tries to convince us to choose a particular product, but those carefully selected nouns and adjectives often lead us in the wrong direction.

Food Label Lies You Need To Look Out For

1. Sugar-free

When a product is labeled as sugar-free, it is supposed to have less than 0.5 grams of sugar per serving. However, many manufacturers label a product as sugar-free only to hide sugars under names like evaporated cane juice, sorbitol, xylitol, sucralose, aspartame, and saccharin, among others.

Basically, you are opting for the sugar-free version thinking that you are avoiding taking in the extra sugar calories, when in fact, you are only filling yourself up with modified and artificial sugars which are worse for your health than simply eating regular sugar.

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To avoid this pitfall, take the time to read nutrition labels. Get comfortable with knowing other names for sugars so you can easily spot them on an ingredients list and go with the option with less hidden sugars.

2. Natural and artificial flavoring

The term “natural” is thrown around more than a bull rider at a rodeo. For the most part, you can assume that a food product contains something artificially made or modified. Natural flavoring can even be an alias for MSG.

Flavorings, both artificial and natural, can be a combination of elements found in nature as well manmade chemicals. If a label says “contains natural flavorings,” something in the product did come from nature, however, it might not be as obvious as you think. As Huffington Post reports, “strawberry flavor doesn’t have to come from a strawberry.”

3. Zero trans fat

As with its sugar-free counterpart, zero trans fat means that a product can contain up to 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. This means if you have more than one serving, you could potentially consume over a gram of trans fat. Consuming trans fat increases your levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and lowers your good cholesterol (HDL) which, in turn, increases your risk of heart disease.

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Avoid eating food with the terms “hydrogenated,” “shortening,” or “high-Omega-6 vegetable oil” in the ingredients list.

The bottom line

We are far better off eating foods that come in their natural form and not out of a box than you are scouring grocery store shelves for “low-fat, “no-sugar” “and “diet” products.

Not quite convinced? Indulge yourself in the documentary “Hungry for Change” (also available on Netfilix and Amazon Instant Video).