How well do you understand food labels? There are so many tricks that manufacturers use to convince you to buy their product. Check the terms below to learn the reasons behind common buzzwords and really get true value out of your food purchases.

1. Free
Just because an item is packaged fat-, sugar-, or sodium-free does not mean it does not contain these substances. The FDA evaluates these terms according to a typical portion size known. For example, to qualify as fat- or sugar-free, a product has to contain less than 0.5 g of the reference amount.

2. High
You often see wellness food with ‘high or rich in’ labels. Manufacturers want to brag about the good stuff, of course. Technically, ‘high’ pertains to at least 20% increase of the recommended daily value for that nutrient per serving. But it is easy to think it means a massive increase!

3. Lean
Health buffs always go for this brand. Usually, these items refer to seafood or game-meat products with less than 10g total fat, 4.5 grams saturated fat, and 95 mg cholesterol.

4. Healthy
When you think about it, who decides when food is healthy or not? According to science, foods with the healthy label mist meet the low standard for fat and saturated fat, have 480 mg or less of sodium, and are low in cholesterol. In addition, they should also have at least 10% of the recommended daily values of essential nutrients like Vitamins A and C, protein, fiber, iron, and calcium.

5. Natural
Oddly enough, there is no consensus on what ‘natural’ on food labels mean. Yes, even the FDA has not formally defined it. So be more discerning with what you buy. Natural can mean anything at this point because there is no official definition.

6. Low
Anything ‘low’ is evaluated based on a set portion size. For total fat, a product must have fewer than 3 g fat to be labeled low fat. For calories, it has to be less than 40, but for main meals the number should be less than 100 to 120 per 100 g.