With their best attempt to stay healthy, consumers are becoming more and more vigilant when it comes to checking what they put in their carts when they shop for groceries and supplies. However, there are still consumers who are easy to please.
A lot of people would tell you that they’d quickly throw in a product that’s labeled as natural in their cart. But how does the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) really define “natural”? Why are manufacturers allowed to put this on the labels of their products?
When it comes to the definition of what’s natural for the FDA, there’s really no legal definition from them yet. What they only consider natural are products that do not have any artificial or synthetic ingredients.
While that sounds good enough to make a product seem completely natural, the FDA only checks the ingredients. The production and processing methods are outside the scope of what the FDA has defined so far.
Basically, manufacturers can still label their products as natural as long as there are no human-made chemicals listed as part of the ingredients. The use of pesticides or thermal technologies during the production and processing stage of these ingredients won’t really get in the way of having these products labeled as natural.
It’s also not specified that products that can be labeled natural should be nutritional or beneficial for one’s health.
With these in mind, is eating natural and healthy eating the same thing? Isn’t it true that when you choose natural foods, you’re also choosing to eat healthily?
Well, the answer is that it really depends. What you really need to know is that eating natural may not be the same with eating healthy.
So as a consumer, how can you remain vigilant about choosing what’s healthy for you? What can you do better before you place any food products in your shopping cart whether you’re in an actual grocery store or shopping online from sites such as mercato.com?
Food nutritionist and registered dietician Cynthia Sass shared three tips for this.
Read the Ingredients List
Checking the label should not end with checking the product’s claims. You should also check the ingredients and nutritional value that the food has. The best way to tell whether a food product hasn’t been chemically altered is by checking whether its ingredients are something you can easily have in your kitchen.
Check the Sugar Content
It’s surprising to know that a lot of natural food products are loaded with sugar. Overconsumption of both natural and artificial sweeteners can be bad for your health. Sure, natural sweeteners sound more appealing, but what you should really look for is the amount of sugar that a product contains.
Avoid Refined Products
Refined products like sugars and grains are never really good for your health. These refined products are high in carbohydrates, and this is why they are also called as refined carbs. Having too many carbs included in your diet will make you more susceptible to having diseases like diabetes.
It’s best for you to choose whole foods and products that are low in carbohydrates. Plenty types of diets revolve around reducing one’s carbs intake as it’s just the best way to lose weight and remain healthy. The less sugar or carbs your body has to burn, the more fat it could get out of your system.
Choosing what’s natural isn’t always the best option. This will also depend on a person’s lifestyle. Think of how potatoes were considered healthy back in the day. This was the case because people had to farm for potatoes before they eat them.
Nowadays, there’s no need for you to farm or even grow your own potato. Not much effort is needed for you to enjoy any food. Right now, potatoes are not really one of the healthiest foods out there. In fact, they are really unhealthy, and that’s according to the School of Public Health at Harvard.
A lot of products can now be store-bought and you don’t even have to leave your house to get them. The point is that the amount of a person’s physical activity should also be considered to really know what’s healthy for them.
Potatoes can only be considered good if you don’t consume many carbohydrates in a day, or if you have the means to burn the carbs you just had right away. The same principle applies to the consumption of any food with sugar or carbohydrates.
The bottom line is that not every product that’s labeled as natural is good for you. It also doesn’t mean that it is healthy and worth the money.