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Reading Nutritional Labels

Updated: May 20, 2021

Understanding how to read nutrition labels is a daunting process, I remember when I was first diagnosed with celiac I spent hours in the grocery store trying to read through each ingredient list to make sure what I was buying was safe for me to consume. I ending leaving the store with two products and I was crying from feeling so overwhelmed, I can only imagine that is how most people feel trying to find healthier options in the sea full of products on the shelves these days. Below are some helpful tips on how to read through ingredient labels like a pro and sift through the crappy ones quickly.

Front labels are often used to lure people into buying products. However, some of these labels are highly misleading (Health line)

If a food has a commercial avoid it

Manufacturers are often dishonest in the way they use these labels. They tend to use health claims that are misleading and in some cases downright false (Health line)

A good rule of thumb is to scan the first three ingredients, as they make up the largest part of what you’re eating.

If the first ingredients include refined grains, a type of sugar, or hydrogenated oils, you can assume that the product is unhealthy. (Health Line)

In addition, an ingredients list that is longer than two to three lines suggests that the product is highly processed, always limit highly processed foods and reach for more “whole” unprocessed foods when possible.

New labels have total sugars and added sugars always try to keep it less than 5g or less per serving for added sugars.

Look out for added sugars, Sugars have many different names they try to hide under below are a list of the different names of the sugars to look out for in the ingredient list.

Types of sugar: beet sugar, brown sugar, buttered sugar, cane sugar, caster sugar, coconut sugar, date sugar, golden sugar, invert sugar, muscovado sugar, organic raw sugar, raspadura sugar, evaporated cane juice, and confectioner’s sugar.

Types of syrup: carob syrup, golden syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, agave nectar, malt syrup, maple syrup, oat syrup, rice bran syrup, and rice syrup.

Other added sugars: barley malt, molasses, cane juice crystals, lactose, corn sweetener, crystalline fructose, dextran, malt powder, ethyl maltol, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, galactose, glucose, disaccharides, maltodextrin, and maltose. (health line)

“Lastly many companies claim they are healthy when in fact it is crap and should be limited in your diet or limited and replaced for something better, some of the claims to look out for are as follows:

Light. Light products are processed to reduce either calories or fat. Some products are simply watered down. Check carefully to see if anything has been added instead — like sugar.

Multigrain. This sounds very healthy but only means that a product contains more than one type of grain. These are most likely refined grains — unless the product is marked as whole grain.

Natural. This does not necessarily mean that the product resembles anything natural. It simply indicates that at one point the manufacturer worked with a natural source like apples or rice.

Organic. This label says very little about whether a product is healthy. For example, organic sugar is still sugar.

No added sugar. Some products are naturally high in sugar. The fact that they don’t have added sugar doesn’t mean they’re healthy. Unhealthy sugar substitutes may also have been added.

Low-calorie. Low-calorie products have to have one-third fewer calories than the brand’s original product. Yet, one brand’s low-calorie version may have similar calories as another brand’s original.

Low-fat. This label usually means that the fat has been reduced at the cost of adding more sugar and chemicals. Be very careful and read the ingredients list.

Low-carb. Recently, low-carb diets have been linked to improved health. Still, processed foods that are labeled low-carb are usually still processed junk foods, similar to processed low-fat foods and contain sugar alcohols.

Made with whole grains. The product may contain very little whole grains. Check the ingredients list — if whole grains aren’t in the first three ingredients, the amount is negligible.

Fortified or enriched. This means that some nutrients have been added to the product. For example, vitamin D is often added to milk. Yet, just because something is fortified doesn’t make it healthy.

Gluten-free. Gluten-free doesn’t mean healthy. The product simply doesn’t contain wheat, spelt, rye, or barley. Many gluten-free foods are highly processed and loaded with unhealthy fats and sugar.

Fruit-flavored. Many processed foods have a name that refers to a natural flavor, such as strawberry yogurt. However, the product may not contain any fruit — only chemicals designed to taste like fruit with tons of sugar. Flavored yogurt, granola, and cereal bars are the worst.

Zero trans fat. This phrase means “less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving.” Thus, if serving sizes are misleadingly small, the product may still contain trans fat (5Trusted Source).

Despite these cautionary words, many truly healthy foods are organic, whole grain, or natural. Still, just because a label makes certain claims, doesn’t guarantee that it’s healthy.” (health line)

A helpful tip is to stick to the outer perimeter of the grocery store and to only include “processed foods” that have a shorter ingredient list and limit the sugar intake.

#healthyoffice #healthyhabits #stayactive#readingNutritionlabels#Nutrition

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