Understanding Food Labels

When I’m shopping I always read what I’m buying and what benefits are. Food manufacturers use front label trickery you that their brands are healthy. Don’t be fooled – always read the ingredients and Nutrition Facts. Taken together, the information on all three labels will help you make the healthiest food choices.

You’ll quickly see that many food items actually have hidden trans fats and high amounts of sodium, preservatives, and artificial flavorings. They are anything but healthy.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Definitions you should know:

·         FAT FREE – Has less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving
·         LOW FAT – 3 grams or less of fat per serving
·         REDUCED or LESS FAT – 25% less fat per serving than the full-fat version
·         LITE or LIGHT – means: fewer calories or half the fat of the non-light version
·         CALORIE FREE- less than 5 calories per serving
·         LOW CALORIE – 40 calories or less per serving

 Avoid Front Label Trickery

·         “Fortified”, “enriched”, “added”, “extra”, and “plus” usually mean the food has been altered or processed in some way.
·         “Fruit drinks” usually means little or no real fruit and a lot of sugar. Look for products that say “100% fruit juice”.

·         “Natural” or “made from natural” simply means the manufacturer started with a natural source. Once processed, the food may not resemble anything “natural.”

·         “Organically grown,” “organic,” “pesticide-free,” and “no artificial ingredients” say very little about the nutritional value or safety of the product. Trust only those labels that say “certified organically grown.”
·         “Sugar-free,” “sugarless,” or “no added sugar” tells you nothing about sugar

Remember Ingredients are listed in order of most to least amounts. That means the first ingredient will be in the largest quantity. The second is the second most and so on.
Enriched flour, wheat flour, or unbleached wheat flour: all means small amount of whole wheat added.

Partially hydrogenated” or “hydrogenated oils”: Trans fats.
Nitrates: used to preserve meats and have been linked to creating a powerful cancer causing chemical
High fructose corn syrup: Its just fancy word for sugar.
Artificial food colorings: Chemicals used to add color to foods.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) : Form of sodium; means high sodium

There are many more ingredients that we could list, but here’s my rule of thumb: if a food item is packed with lots of ingredients that you can’t pronounce (they are artificial sounding) and it includes trans fats, you should look for a better food choice. Try to stick with products that are made from whole foods, with little to no preservatives, and with little to no artificial sounding ingredients, and definitely no trans fats.
“If you don’t take care of yourself, the undertaker will overtake that responsibility for you.”      – Carrie Latet


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