Natural Foods Glossary

My mom came across this handy pamphlet at our local Publix Supermarket containing key terms we see throughout the grocery store . For those of you without a Publix in your area, I am SO sorry. They are by far one of the best grocery stores in the world (no exaggeration)! When I first started eating healthier, I was not familiar with the terminology being used. This list would have really helped!

Here is a link to the Glossary on their website!

All-Natural Foods These foods are minimally processed and contain no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Allergy An unusually high sensitivity to normally harmless substances such as pollens, foods, or microorganisms. Common symptoms include sneezing, itching, eye irritation, and rashes.
Antibiotic A substance or drug used to treat infections, originally derived from fungi, bacteria and other organisms. Today, synthetic antibiotics have been produced to accomplish comparable tasks.
Antioxidants Substances, such as beta-carotene and vitamins C and E, which block or inhibit oxidation within cells. Antioxidants may reduce the risks of cancer and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Carbohydrate An organic substance, usually of plant origin with a carbon, hydrogen and oxygen composition, which serves as a major energy source in the diet.
Carcinogens Substances that are capable of inducing cancerous changes in cells and/or tissues.
Cholesterol A crystalline substance found in soluble fat, which serves in the transporting and absorption of fatty acids. However, excess amounts can be a potential health threat.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) Unsaturated fatty acids that are essential for health, but not produced by the body: EFAs are commonly found in cold-pressed oils, particularly in oils extracted from cold-water fish and certain seeds.
Fiber The indigestible portion of plant matter and an important component of a healthy diet. It is capable of binding to toxins and escorting them out of the body.
Free Radical An atom or group of atoms with at least one unpaired electron. Because free radicals are highly reactive, they can alter the chemical structure of cells and may accelerate the progression of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Functional Foods Foods that have been enriched or fortified with vitamins, herbs, or minerals to provide a health benefit beyond the product’s traditional nutrients. For example: orange juice with calcium.
Isoflavones Plant-based compound with estrogen-like properties that are found primarily in soy beans. Isoflavens can act as low-dose estrogens and can also lessen estrogen’s effect on cells and skin layers, possibly reducing the risks of estrogen-related cancers.
Mineral A micro-nutrient that is neither animal- nor plant-based such as calcium, iron, potassium, sodium, and zinc, which is essential to the nutrition of humans, animals, and plants.
Organic Foods The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) strictly enforces proper production of these foods by using the following categories:

  • “100% Organic” products include all organically produced (raw and processed) ingredients (excluding water and salt).  The “100% Organic” label may be used, as may the USDA organic seal.  The organic certifying agent must be identified on the label, as must the seal.
  • USDA Certified Organics are made with 95% or more organic ingredients.  These foods may be labeled as “Organic” and carry the USDA organic seal.  The name of the certifying agent must appear on the label, although the seal is optional.
  • “Made with Organic Ingredients” means foods may include 70-94% organic ingredients.  Up to 3 of these organic ingredients may be listed on the primary display panel, along with the “Made with Organic Ingredients” tag.  The name of the certifying agent must be included; the USDA organic seal can not be used.
  • Foods made with less than 70% organic content can include the organic ingredients on the ingredient label. This term can be found on the information panel on applicable products and identifying ingredients.  It can not be used on the primary display panel, however, and no seals can be used.

Specific requirements to be certified organic vary slightly for different types of livestock, dairy and agricultural producers.

RDA An acronym for Recommended Daily Allowance or Recommended Dietary Allowance. The estimated amount of a nutrient, or calories, per day considered necessary for the maintenance of good health as determined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Saturated Fat A fat that is solid at room temperature. Although most are of animal origin, some like coconut oil and palm oil come from plants. An excess of saturated fats in the diet may raise cholesterol levels in the bloodstream.
Vegan These products are derived solely from plant origin, excluding animal protein (such as meat, eggs, dairy products or honey).
Vegetarian Foods derived from plant sources, such as vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes and nuts. May contain some animal protein, usually using egg or dairy products as ingredients.
Vitamin One of a group of organic substances essential in small quantities for life. For the most part, they must be supplied through the diet, since the body does not manufacture them.

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