Q: I often read labels when I'm grocery-shopping, but I find many are confusing. Is there something I'm missing?
A: With so many claims plastered on labels, things can get really confusing. Food companies use these claims to make you think products are healthier than they really are. We've rounded up the top 10 food-label booby traps:
The term "natural" is not well-defined by the FDA, so when you see the term "natural" on the label, just ignore it.
All foods that come from a plant -- such as fruits, veggies, grains, nuts and seeds -- are free of cholesterol. So "cholesterol-free" labels on those foods mean nothing.
3: Trans-fat free
Be aware that trace amounts of trans fat can be hidden in many foods. Look for words such as "partially hydrogenated" on the ingredient list.
Organic foods cost a pretty penny, but aren't always worth it. Be strategic about splurging your hard-earned cash on organic products.
5: Sugars: Added vs. natural
Check the ingredient list.
6: Omega-3 fats
Not all omega-3s are created equal. Those from flax (called ALA) don't have all the benefits (like helping with heart health) when compared with the omega-3s derived from fatty fish such as salmon and tuna (called DHA and EPA).
Some fiber is added to food products and may not be as healthy as fiber that's naturally occurring.
8: Reduced fat
In some cases, "reduced fat" may mean more sugar was added to replace the flavor.
9: Serving size
The most common mistake: Thinking the calories on the label are for the entire product. Check the serving size.
10: Added vitamins and minerals
Just because a product has 100 percent of the daily value for vitamins and minerals doesn't mean it should be in your shopping cart.