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What to Look For When Reading Food Labels: Eat Smarter Part I

Posted Jun 05 2012 2:12pm

What to Look For When Reading Food Eat Smarter Part I

Filed under: Blog Entries , Healthy Ideas
June 5, 2012

Many people get confused when reading food labels.. They make it difficult on purpose!! That’s why you have to be a savvy consumer and do your research so nobody can trick you. Its important to read the label before eating so here are a few tips to help you out: 

  1. The order of the ingredient list – A great rule to keep in mind is the biggest comes first, in terms of weight. Ingredients are listed by order or relevance, which means if sugars are listed first, then this product is packed full of it, no matter what the front of the packaging says!!
  2. Notice the serving size – Just because the label says 100 calories, doesn’t mean you can eat the whole box. If it has 10 serving in it, then that’s 1000 calories. A lot of products use more serving sizes so that they can appear healthier by lowering the percentage of sodium, trans fats, and sugars. Don’t let them trick you!
  3. Limit your sodium intake – According to the American Heart Association, the top recommended daily amount of sodium intake is 2400 mg. Excess amounts of sodium can lead to problems, like high blood pressure. That’s why it’s crucial to pay attention to the serving size and make sure you’re not getting more sodium than you realize.
  4. Look out for sugar substitutes – Just because a product doesn’t contain sugar in it, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, saccharin, suclarose, and acesulfame have been shown to be very harmful for the body. Take caution from products that claim to be healthy and contain these artificial sugars.
  5. Stay away from high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)This is found in a lot of processed foods and is very bad for your health due to the way it is metabolized. If you are going to products containing sugar, make sure it doesn’t include HFCS.
  6. Stay far away from trans fats – These fats are linked to numerous health concerns, such as heart disease. They are usually listed as “partially hydrogenated oils” so look out for that on the label. It is found in several packaged items, such as cookies, breads, margarine, frozen foods, fast foods, and candy.
  7. Look at both calories and calories from fatHealthy fats are good for the body but take a closer look at the other fats. This is a great tip for those of you trying to lose weight. For example, if a product is 150 calories but 115 calories from fat, it means that no matter what the label says, 75% of its calories come from fat. On the other hand, another snack can have 150 calories but only 25-30 that come from fat. You can see the better choice here.

I ♥ Great Advice

If a package says “contains whole grains” does that mean its entirely whole grains? Ignore what’s on the front of the package and go directly to the food label and ingredient list. “Fat-free!” or “zero trans fats” may sound like a dieter’s dream, but fat-free foods (especially salad dressing) can be loaded with more sugar than a baker’s bowl. Another caution: Just because something “contains whole grains” doesn’t mean it’s made entirely or even mostly with whole grains. Bottom line: The front of the package isn’t even as revealing as the outside of a new car. It might look seductive, but you really have to check what’s under the hood to see what it’s all about. The ingredient list is where all the answers are.

-       Dr Mehmet Oz

You should be as active reading food labels as you are reading the stock ticker or the horoscopes. Don’t eat foods that have the following listed as one of the first four ingredients:

  • Simple sugars
  • Enriched, bleached, or refined flour (it means it’s stripped of its nutrients)
  • HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup–a four-letter word).

Putting these substances into your body is like dunking your cell phone in a glass of water. It’ll cause your system to fritz out by shorting out your hormones and sending your body confusing messages about eating.

-       Dr Michael Roizen

Spread the Word

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