A few months back, I posted ten questions testing my readers’ label-scouring skills. I was very happy to receive great feedback on it… and decided it was time for another pop quiz, class!
The answers are provided at the bottom of this post. So, grab a sheet of paper and your favorite pen, and get to it. Good luck!
1. On the radio, you hear an advertisement touting a company’s “hormone-free pork”. However, that claim is misleading because _______.
2. Which of the following criteria must be met in order for a product to market itself as “lightly sweetened”?
a. No more than 10% of calories from added sugar.
b. It may only contain sugars from whole fruits.
c. There is no criteria; “lightly sweetened” is not a legally defined term by the USDA.
d. The sweet flavors can only come from artificial sweeteners.
3. True or False: if a product is labeled “organic” you can rest assured it is 100% free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
4. True or False: In order for eggs to be labeled as “free-range”, the hens must spend at least 51% of their time outdoors.
5. Natural flavors differ from artificial flavors in that they:
a. Both are processed with solvents and chemicals, but natural flavors start off with a plant or animal product, as opposed to a chemical.
b. Natural flavors can not be enhanced with chemicals.
c. Natural flavors can be organic, while artificial flavors can not.
d. Natural flavors often contribute some vitamins and minerals; artificial flavors do not.
6. Give one reason why reduced-fat peanut butter is nutritionally inferior to “full-fat” peanut butter.
7. A brand of vegetarian patties lists “cold milled flax seed” as an ingredient. A brand of tortilla chips lists “flaxseeds” as an ingredient. What can you glean about the nutrition imparted from these products just based on that information?
a. The milled flax in the patties indicate a higher amount of omega-3 fatty acids.
b. The milled flax in the patties indicate that the lignans (health-promoting compounds) in the flax seeds are absorbable.
c. The whole flax seeds in the tortilla chips indicate a higher fiber product.
d. The whole flax seeds in the tortilla chips indicate better absorption of minerals, since milling flax can destroy some nutrients.
e. Both products offer the exact same health benefits from flax seeds.
8. You see a bottle of 100% fruit juice touting a high amounts of vitamins A and E per serving. Why is this a moot point? FYI: It has nothing to do with grams of sugar.
9. True or False: from a nutritional standpoint, extra virgin olive oil is the best oil to use for stir-fries and other high-temperature processes.
10. How much time should you wait before and after a vegetarian meal to drink tea/coffee so as to not compromise iron absorption?
1. Per the United States Department of Agriculture, it is illegal to administer hormones to pork or poultry. Therefore, all pork products, no matter how heinous their diet or living conditions, are hormone-free.
2. C. Food companies love the term “lightly sweetened” because there is no legal definition. Case in point — two weeks ago I spotted a box of Frosted Mini Wheats touting that claim — along with a full tablespoon of sugar per serving.
3. False. It is true that in order to bear an organic label, a product must not be genetically modified. However, unintentional contamination can sometimes occur. And, at least for the time being, GMO testing is voluntary. So, if you are looking to completely avoid GMO soy, for example, I recommend you seek out products that specifically state “non-GMO soy” on the ingredient list, rather than simply depending on organic certification. I also recommend familiarizing yourself with companies that are part of the Non-GMO Project.
4. False. While there is a legal definition for “free-range” when it comes to poultry (a definition that still permits less-than-desirable living conditions, sadly), the same can not be said for egg-laying hens. Since there is no standard, “free-range” eggs often come from hens that live in bleak conditions — their beaks are cut off without anesthesia, they are often starved in order to induce more ovulation cycles, and while not housed in cages, they may have no more than an 8.5 by 11 inch space to stand on inside a crowded facility. If humanely raised eggs are of importance to you, my only recommendation is to locate a farm where hens are completely pasture-raised (meaning they live outdoors, eating a diet of grass, grains, and insects.
5. A. Contrary to what the name might imply, natural flavors are no less processed than artificial ones.
6. Acceptable answers: reduced-fat peanut butter contains lower amounts of heart-healthy fats, is less satiating, higher in sodium, lower in fiber.
7. B. Milled — or ground — flax allows the ultra-healthful lignans to be absorbable. Whole flaxseeds offer fiber and healthful fats, but keeps the lignans trapped inside the shell. Lignans have been implicated in helping control blood sugar and hypertension, and lower risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.
8. Vitamins A & E are fat-soluble, meaning they need to be consumed with a small amount of fat (at least 3 grams) to fully be absorbed. Therefore, drinking a juice that contains vitamins A & E without a food that provides some fat results in no absorption of those nutrients.
9. False. Extra virgin olive oil has a rather low smoke point. Once an oil smokes, its healthful compounds are converted into oxidized compounds that can actually damage cells and increase inflammation in the body. Extra virgin olive oil is better suited for salad dressings, dips, or as an oil to pour once food has been plated. Coconut oil and peanut oil have significantly higher standpoints and are a better choice for high-heat methods.
10. 45 minutes. Drinking tea or coffee along with (or within 45 minutes of starting or finishing) a vegetarian meal decreases iron absorption by 65%.