Cheat Sheet to Defining “Health” Buzzwords

Health buzzwords are overstated in the media and packaging every day. Understanding the meaning behind these words will not only help you make wiser purchase decisions to benefit your lifestyle, but it will arm you to see-through the marketing gimmicks trying to ride the coat tails of legitimate healthful options. For example, there was a time bottled water was labeled as Trans-fat free – if you knew the meaning of Trans-Fat Free bottled water does not even apply to trans-fat inclusion.

Consider some of the terms: Organic, All-Natural, Trans-Fat Free, Non-GMO Certified, Kosher, Sustainable. Test yourself! Do you know what all these buzzwords really mean and how they provide a more healthful option for you or the environment?

Here is a top-line summary defining each healthy buzz word:


Organic products are free of pesticides and insecticides that are harmful to your health. To preserve an organic crop, farmers use natural pest deterrents instead of chemical ones. You’re not getting traces of the pesticides and insecticides in the products you consume or use in your home.

All-Natural or 100% Natural

Void of artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, chemicals. These products also do not contain synthetic ingredients. According to the Natural Products Association, products that are considered “natural” must be made from mostly or entirely natural ingredients and manufactured in a way to preserve the purity of the ingredients.

Trans Fat-Free

Trans fats are created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil during the manufacturing process. The substance is included in products to help preserve their shelf life, so they don’t spoil quickly. Trans fats are considered “bad fats” because they raise bad (LDL) cholesterol in the bloodstream which can lead to heart disease, the number one killer of men and women in the United States.


Non-GMO means non-genetically modified organisms. GMOs are basically unique organisms created in a laboratory using genetic modification/engineering techniques. Scientists and consumer and environmental groups have cited many health and environmental risks with foods containing GMOs. When a product is deemed GMO-free, it goes through a process of verification to validate the product was not produced with GMOs.


Kosher refers to the strict laws governing kosher product creation. In order for something to be certified Kosher, the ingredients that make up the product and the way it is prepared and manufactured must meet Jewish biblical laws to be “orthodox kosher-compliant,” according to An emphasis on cleanliness, purity, and quality are in place.


Sustainable products are those products that provide environmental, social and economic benefits while protecting public health and the environment over their whole life cycle, from the extraction of raw materials until the final disposal. Examples of sustainable products are ingredients sourced locally, products manufactured using solar energy, products that are recyclable and biodegradable. Ultimately, treading lightly on the earth’s resources and environment to protect and preserve the natural integrity of the earth – that includes being mindful of depleting resources. Hence, the term sustainable farming comes into play showing that the farming does not deplete any of the earth’s natural resources/species.