Navigating the grocery store aisles can feel like a minefield if you’re trying to eat healthily. Food packaging is often plastered with labels that sound good for you—“low-fat,” “natural,” and “light” are just a few examples. But these labels don’t always mean what we think. Let’s break down what these common food labels actually mean so you can make informed choices and avoid being misled by clever marketing.

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Implies that the product is made without artificial ingredients or additives and minimally processed. However, it does not indicate nutritional benefits, such as low sugar or fat, nor does it reflect on the product’s safety or healthiness.

Made with Whole Grains

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This label means that some quantity of whole grains has been used in the product, but it doesn’t specify the amount, which could be minimal. Whole grains might only be a small percentage of the total grains used, with the majority possibly being refined grains.


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Often used to describe texture and color, or to indicate a product has one-third fewer calories or 50% less fat than the standard version. However, these reductions are typically achieved by adding water, artificial flavors, or sweeteners.


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Simply means that the product contains more than one type of grain. These are not necessarily whole grains, and unless the product is labeled as 100% whole grain, the health benefits might be substantially less.


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Certifies that the product complies with organic farming standards, which restrict the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. It doesn’t cover nutrition aspects such as sugar, fat content, or calorie count.


Aisle in a supermarket displaying various sugar-free products, with a prominent blue "sugar free" banner hanging from the ceiling.
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Indicates that no sugar was added during processing, but the product can contain naturally occurring sugars. These items often have sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners, which can have laxative effects or affect blood sugar levels.


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Contains less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving, but often has added sugars or artificial ingredients to compensate for flavor and texture loss. Such products may still be high in calories despite being fat-free.

Zero Trans Fat

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Per serving, contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fats, which technically allows manufacturers to round down to zero. However, these small amounts can add up if consuming multiple servings, potentially increasing heart disease risk.


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Essential for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, this label means the product contains no gluten. It does not imply that the product is healthier, lower in sugar, or lower in fats than gluten-containing counterparts.

No Added Sugars

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While no sugars were added during processing, the product might still be high in calories from other ingredients. It’s important to check for natural sugars and carbohydrates which can also impact blood sugar levels.


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This product contains fewer carbohydrates than typical versions, often used by those following ketogenic diets. It does not necessarily mean the product is low in calories or sugars, as sometimes fats and sweeteners are added to enhance flavor.


Close-up of a nutrition label showing calorie content and breakdown of fats, including total fat, saturated fat, and trans fat, with percentage daily values.
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Contains less than 2 milligrams of cholesterol per serving and 2 grams or less of saturated fat. This label doesn’t mean the product is fat-free or healthy, as it could still be high in sugars and total fats.

Low Sodium

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This indicates the product has 140 mg of sodium or less per serving, which is ideal for those watching their salt intake. However, it does not imply that the product is low in calories or healthy overall, as it can still be high in sugars or unhealthy fats.

High in Fiber

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Products labeled as high in fiber contain at least 5 grams per serving. While fiber is beneficial, these products can also be high in sugars and calories, so it’s important to read the full nutrition label.

Contains Omega-3s

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This suggests the presence of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health. However, the amount of Omega-3s can vary significantly, and the product might still contain high levels of saturated fats or calories.

5 Labels On Chicken That Mean Nothing & 6 To Pay Attention To

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Navigating the grocery store’s poultry aisle can feel like decoding a secret language. “Organic,” “air-chilled,” and “non-GMO” are just a few buzzwords you’ll encounter, each promising a better bird. But which labels actually mean something for the welfare of the chickens and the quality of your dinner? We’re here to cut through the clutter and tell you which chicken labels are worth paying attention to and which ones you can safely ignore.

See Them Here: 5 Labels On Chicken That Mean Nothing & 6 To Pay Attention To

Are Pastured Eggs Really Worth The Splurge? Here’s The Complete Low-Down

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Ever wondered if shelling out extra for pastured eggs is really worth it? You’re not alone, the marketing on a carton of eggs can be confusing and nuts at times. With all the buzz around different egg types, it’s easy to get scrambled trying to make the healthiest, most ethical choice. Before you make your next grocery run, we’ve got the complete low-down on pastured eggs to help you decide if they’re the right pick for your cart—and your conscience.

See Them Here: Are Pastured Eggs Really Worth The Splurge? Here’s The Complete Low-Down

10 Risky Foods That You’re Better Off Avoiding According To Food Safety Experts

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Not to dampen your foodie spirit, but some eats come with a side of risk that’s not listed in the description. From raw sprouts that could be throwing a bacteria party, to that rare steak from your favorite restaurant that’s playing with danger, this guide walks you through the minefield of risky eats out there and offers some safer, just-as-tasty alternatives to try instead.

See Them Here: 10 Risky Foods That You’re Better Off Avoiding According To Food Safety Experts

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Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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