Feeling confused by the jumble of terms on your food labels, from "organic" to "superfood" to "GMO?" Here are the terms you can safely ignore—and the ones that experts say actually matter, Lizz Schumer writes for the New York Times.
Help your employees promote healthy habits—regardless of the newest diet fads
According to Liz Vaknin of the food marketing company Our Name Is Farm, many common food label terms are simply designed to get you to buy the product. "The more value you ascribe to a term, the more you identify with it, the more you're willing to pay for it," she said. "Some are useful, some are misleading, and a lot of them are not regulated enough to mean anything."
Schumer provides a rundown of potentially confusing terms:
While plenty of terms on a food label are confusing, unimportant, or unregulated, some aspects of the food label really do matter, according to Schumer.
You should definitely pay attention to the list of nutrition facts required by the FDA, Schumer writes. "A healthful food is low in added sugar, low in added sodium, and offers a nice amount of fiber," Bellatti said. Bellatti recommends consuming no more than 24 grams of added sugar per day.
Zvi recommended that consumers who are on the go select "foods with less than 20% daily value of sodium and saturated fat, and less than 10 grams of added sugar."
You should also pay close attention to serving sizes on the nutrition facts label, Zvi said, noting that foods marketed as "single-serving" can actually contain multiple servings.
Where you food comes from
Knowing how far your food has traveled to get to your grocery store is important as well, Schumer writes, as produce loses some of its health benefits after harvest. According to Alina Zolotareva, a registered dietitian and marketing manager of AeroFarms, "The second you harvest, [produce] starts losing vitamin C and phytochemicals that are sensitive to oxygen."
As such, Schumer writes, it's good to buy locally-grown produce. Local farmers also can tell you exactly how their food is grown, when it was harvested, and what's in season.
What you'll actually eat
Ultimately, it's most important to buy food that "you and your family [are] realistically going to eat," Zolotareva said. Vaknin added, "As a country, we're willing to spend money on a lot of things, and the one thing we compromise on is food."
That's not a compromise we should make, Schumer writes. "[I]f you're able to spend less on your next pair of shoes and a little more on feeding yourself and your family the most healthy options, it may be worth giving your grocery budget a little boost" (Schumer, New York Times, 7/3).
Programs aimed at promoting healthy habits among employees are likely to lead to improved employee engagement and productivity—but they're unlikely to reduce the total cost of care. To do that, you'll need to take a population health approach.
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