A quick-start guide to the latest food terminology

New phrases showing up on packaging don't always tell you if the food is better for your health.


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You're not alone if you don't know the meaning of certain terms on food labels lately. A new language has developed to describe healthy ways to produce meat, vegetables, fruit, and other products in the grocery store. "It's not just the terms that are confusing, but also various associated health claims," says Vasanti Malik, a nutrition researcher at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Organic vs. natural

Some food is labeled "organic" or "natural." What's the difference? The FDA doesn't have a definition for "natural," although it doesn't object to the term if a food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.

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