Tips on How to Shop for Heart Healthy Food
When it comes to being heart healthy, you have to become a savvy shopper. This can become difficult with all the label claims you see in grocery stores. The latest hot trend on labels are the words "natural" and "organic". In the past, claims such as added vitamins/minerals, low-fat, and low-calorie were popular.
In order to use label claims, the food must meet specified government definitions. Let me share with you what some different label claims mean.
Low fat - 3 grams of fat or less per serving
Low calorie - 40 calories or less per serving
Good source - One serving provides 10-19% of the Daily Value of a stated nutrient
Salt/Sodium free - Less than 5 mg of sodium per serving
Very low sodium - Less than 35 mg of sodium per serving
Unsalted - No salt added during processing (Standard product must normally use salt in processing. For example, peanuts use salt during normal processing, so it's legal for peanuts that are processed without adding salt to use the claim "unsalted".)
Now, let's cover the newer label claims showing up on supermarket shelves.
The organic food label means the food was produced under environmentally friendly conditions and no antibiotics, growth hormones, fertilizers with synthetic ingredients or sewage sledge, pesticides, bioengineering, or ionized radiation was used.
100% Organic: This claim is allowed on single ingredient foods (fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, and eggs that exclude water and salt). This is currently the highest standard a food product can receive.
Made with Organic Ingredients - This claim can be used on multiple ingredient foods if the food contains between 70% and 94.9% organic ingredients.
A definition for this claim has been a long time coming from the USDA (United State Department of Agriculture). Foods labeled "natural" cannot contain any artificial ingredients, added coloring, and must be minimally processed. As of January 2009, the USDA ruled the claim "natural" used on meats and meat products indicates the livestock was raised entirely without growth promotants, antibiotics, and animal byproducts.
"Organic" and "natural" are not interchangeable.
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