RAW. ORGANIC. NATURAL. What’s the Difference?

In a world of raw, vegan and organic food, you’re probably wondering what is the difference between all of these health labels, and which ones are worth buying! I put together a simple glossary of common labels you see at the grocery store and included links for further reading. I hope you find this helpful!

Gluten Free: Foods that do not contain gluten

  • Gluten is a type of protein, commonly found in wheat, barley and rye.
  • Some people have a high sensitivity to gluten and are diagnosed with celiac disease.
  • Many others are finding that a gluten free diet has health benefits such as lower cholesterol levels, increased energy and efficiency levels and weight loss.
  • By choosing gluten-free foods, you eat more foods rich in antioxidants and vitamins, which results in a fortified immune system.
  • Gluten is also used as a thickening property and can be found in lotion, lipstick and other cosmetics.
  • If you are thinking of committing to a gluten free diet, you still have so many options for what you can eat. Here’s a great guide to gluten free foods that focuses on what you CAN eat.

Raw Foods: uncooked, unprocessed and mostly organic foods

  • What you see is what you get – no hidden ingredients and nothing that has been cooked, processed or changed.
  • Eating food in its natural state is what is best for our bodies- think about choosing foods to consume as close as we can to how God made them.
  • Some people actually do go on a “Fully Raw” diet, however you can easily incorporate raw foods into your healthy lifestyle without going Fully Raw.
  • In the spirit of Easter coming up, here is a recipe for raw carrot cake bites – YUM!

Organic: free of synthetic additives

  • If you see “USDA Organic” or “Certified Organic” on your food, the item must be 95% or more certified organic
  • Organic animal products are not given any kind of antibiotics or growth hormones and are only fed with organic feed. The animals are not administered any type of medication aside from vaccinations or to treat an illness.
  • Organic fruits and vegetables are grown without using pesticides or fertilizers with synthetic ingredients. The seeds are chemical-free and the fertilizer used is natural.
  • “Non GMO” (Genetically Modified Organisms) are guaranteed 100% organic.
  • The “Clean 15” and the “Dirty Dozen” are a basic guideline on what foods are best to buy organic. Whether you buy organic or not, it’s always important to wash the outside of your fruits and vegetables, as the chemical from the skin may transfer through the knife you are using to cut it.
  • Consider the cost when you buy organic. If it is out of your budget to buy organic foods, don’t let that stop you from buying healthy foods. An apple that isn’t organic is still a better snack than a bag of chips!

All Natural

  • A standard definition for the label “natural” actually does not exist and is used very loosely when it comes to food.
  • The term “natural” generally means that the food is minimally processed, and does not contain artificial ingredients or chemical preservatives.
  • Natural does not always mean it is healthy (there are a lot of desserts made with “natural ingredients”), so be sure to look at the nutritional information if you are trying to eat healthy.
  • Bottom line is to look at the ingredients. If there are a lot of long words you can’t pronounce, it probably has several artificial or synthetic ingredients in it.

Paleo Diet (also known as the “Caveman Diet”)

  • Based on everyday, modern foods that mimic the food groups that our “hunter-gatherer” ancestors would have eaten.
  • Consists of meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit.
  • Excludes dairy, cereal products and processed foods.
  • This diet is known to help optimize your health, minimize risk of chronic disease and lose weight.
  • More information on what you can and cannot eat, as well as resources, recipes and meal plans, can be found on The Paleo Diet website.

Vegan Diet

  • Similar to the vegetarian diet, which excludes meat, fish and poultry.
  • In addition to those exclusions listed above, vegans do not use other animal products and by-products such as eggs, dairy products, honey, leather, silk wool and soaps derived from animal products.
  • The main reasons why some people choose to follow a vegan diet include: religious reasons, environmental and health concerns and animal rights.
  • Smart planning is important when on a vegan diet to make sure that you are still able to obtain all the nutrients required for good health.
  • Thinking about starting a vegan diet? Here is more information about the health benefits and the guidelines on what you can and cannot eat.

I covered some of the most common labels, but if you have a question on any other food labels, please ask and I’d be happy to clarify!

4 thoughts on “RAW. ORGANIC. NATURAL. What’s the Difference?

  1. So crazy how companies can use the term ‘natural’ so loosely! I know personally that I see that word on labels and think the product is a better choice! Thanks for the info! 🙂


  2. I’m definitely needing this information because it’s all so confusing! Nice to have the differences of each in one handy place! Thank you!


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