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The Deal with Health Food Buzzwords

By Sara Butler

There are some words you associate with better health, and companies know this, which is exactly why they use them. But what do these buzzwords mean, really? Do they mean anything at all? Here is a breakdown of some of the most common health food buzzwords to help you wade through all the health hype.

What is a Buzzword?

Buzzwords are terms used as marketing tools and they are often misleading. They highlight the positive aspects of a product while keeping you in the dark about some of the most unsavory aspects of a food. They’re used to encourage you to buy a product, and while not all buzzwords are complete gimmicks, it’s important for you to understand which terms you should be paying attention to and which ones you can just write off.


You see this word a lot on food packaging, but what does it really mean? When it comes to meat, organic cows must spend at least four months of every year grazing in the pasture. Their feed must be grown without the help of pesticides, genetically modified seeds, and chemical fertilizers. These cows are also not treated with antibiotics or hormones.

When it comes to produce, organic is used to describe foods that have been grown with only pesticides, herbicides or fungicides the USDA considers safe. This may surprise you since many people are under the impression that organic produce is grown without pesticides -- but that’s not always the case.


No doubt you’ve heard this buzzword. It conjures images of acai berries in tiny capes, fighting evil and leaping buildings in a single bound! But the term superfood is actually just a marketing ploy without a tiny cape in sight.

Superfoods are thought of as nutrient dense foods that are beneficial to your health and may even help you to fight certain diseases, but it has little grounding in science. The foods labeled super are good for you, and a balanced diet can reduce your risk of developing certain health conditions for sure. There just isn’t any food that will make a big difference in your health on its own.


Artisanal conjures images of a small group of craftsmen making something special just for you, doesn’t it? Well, that’s exactly what the word is meant to inspire. What artisanal actually means is a product made in smaller, limited batches in a more traditional way without the aid of modern machines. The problem is if you can’t ask the artesian who made the product directly about it, it’s probably not artisanal, so you shouldn’t put much weight behind this health buzzword.

Educate yourself on the products you're buying and don’t fall victim to tactics used to sell you an idea rather than the real thing!

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