If you care about your health, you also need to care about what you eat, and unless you are lucky enough to grow all your own food, that means you’ll need to learn how to separate the healthy foods from the unhealthy at your local grocery store.
To make this task easier, many food items carry comprehensive nutrition labels that include information about protein, carbohydrates, fat, fiber, sugar, and salt. Food labels will also include ingredients, listed from greatest to least. All this info can help you make healthier food choices.
However, some food is labeled with even more information, and you will see things like organic, grain-free, non-GMO, and vegan certified printed on the packaging. These labels are also important for selecting healthy food, so it pays to know exactly what they mean.
Organic: Organic food is produced without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation, and animals certified as organic are raised without the routine use of antibiotics or hormones. Organic food does not contain more nutrients than non-organic food but is free from harmful chemicals. However, not all organic food is healthy – after all, you can buy organic cookies and potato chips!
Non-GMO: Genetically modified organisms (GMO) are foods that have been altered at a genetic level to change their natural properties. This may have been done to improve crop yield or increase resistance to pests or diseases. GMO foods are unnatural and have not been consumed for long enough to say whether they are healthy or not. For that reason, many people prefer not to eat GMO foods and many food manufacturers clearly state that their food is GMO-free. GMO-free foods are not automatically healthy, but they are more natural.
Grain-free: Many grains contain gluten – a sticky protein that gives dough its sticky texture. Despite being a protein, some people find gluten hard to digest, and it can cause sensitivity problems in some consumers. Gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity are becoming increasingly common, so many people avoid consuming grains to avoid the gluten they contain. Gluten can cause stomach upsets, headaches, and even joint pain in those sensitive to its effects.
Vegan certified: Vegan certified food is food that has been tested and shown to contain no animal products. That means no meat, fish, chicken, eggs, or milk-related substances. Some vegetarians are less strict than others and will happily eat milk and eggs. However, a vegan eats no animal produce at all. A vegan certified food is not just suitable for vegetarians but for anyone who does not want to eat any animal-related food.
Both, my 2 and 3 favorite meal replacement shakes are all the above: organic, non-gmo, grain-free and vegan certified, you can find them on my article “Best Meal Replacement Shakes for Weight Loss“.
Armed with this knowledge, you should now be able to make fully informed choices about the food you buy and eat.