March 22, 2016

Food labels- Ingredients

We, as Americans, have been looking at food labels for years. Maybe you look at the food labels as a regular part of your grocery shopping. Or maybe you don’t ever look at them due to lack of interest or not knowing what you are reading. However the most important aspect of the entire food label is the list of ingredients at the bottom. 
If the entire food label was eliminated, the ingredients list would be the key aspect which would beg to remain. 
Here’s the deal…
The ingredients are listed in order of quantity. 
The ingredient listed first is the ingredient the product most contains. The ingredients listed towards the end are minimal. Therefore the first three ingredients listed are your most important to pay attention. You can read through the rest of the ingredients list, but if you are in a rush- just focus on the first three ingredients listed. 
Look for “whole” in whole grains. 
This is especially true in breads and pastas, crackers and cereals. Product marketing can really fool an innocent consumer with words of white whole wheat or multigrain. The word ‘whole’ should be listed in the first couple ingredients, in whole wheat, rye, oats, or another similar grain carbohydrate. The word “enriched” means that the grain has been stripped of some/all of it’s nutrients. 
Sugar in disguise
Many items have sugar- even naturally sugars, such as fruit. However in regards to items which require a nutrition label of ingredients, we unfortunately find the slew of sugars in an item. Ingredients ending in -ose are sugar products. This would include fructose, dextrose and sucrose. Yes, they may add more flavor however it can also contribute to weight gain 
Trans fats
Trans fats are either made naturally or artificially. When artificially trans fatty acids are created it is by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them a solid. We should be replacing the trans fats in our diets with monounsaturted and polyunsaturated fats. By reducing our trans fat and saturated fat consumption, we can reduce our risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and stroke. The American Heart Association has an easy to read FAQ list. 
In summary…
The key is whole foods and balance. 
Try to consume lots of food that don’t even have a label! This would be everything in the produce isle at the grocery store- the fruits and vegetables. 
Everything in moderation. The issue typically becomes when we eat too much of the unhealthy items and/or too often. It’s okay to have an item which doesn’t fit in the categories above, but be limited in how much and how often they are consumed. 
Strive for the 80/20 rule. Eat healthy 80% of the time so for the remaining 20%, you can have a little dessert or treat. Moderation. 

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