How to Read Nutrition Facts | Food Labels Made Easy
How to Read and Interpret Nutrition Labels
If you take away one thing from reading this post, this whole blog, or anything you do today, let it be this:Read the ingredients label on everything you eat or are considering eating.With enough training and knowledge, the ingredient list should, most of the time, give you enough information to decide whether or not a food is healthy. It is more important than the nutrition facts. Even though it does not tell you how many Calories or how much sugar is in a product it tells you what the food is actually made of. If you see-sugar, hydrogenated soy oil, high fructose corn syrup, natural flavor, less than 2% of salt-you know then and there it is no good. A general rule of thumb: if the ingredient list is made of all healthy foods, than the food that these ingredients make up is probably healthy. This works the other way too, if the ingredients are crap, the food is crap, and put that crap where it belongs (in the trash if it is in your house, back on the shelf if it is in the store).
Important point: Ingredients are listed in decreasing order by volume; the ingredient present in the largest amount is listed first, with each ingredient following being present in smaller and smaller amounts. The first ingredient being sugar isreally bad,the 5th ingredient being sugar may be OK (a situation like this is where it is good to cross check with the nutrition facts).
Here a few pointers for making good decisions based on ingredient labels
- Look for a small list of ingredients: more ingredients generally means more processing, which almost always means less nutrition and more chemicals
- Avoid high fructose corn syrup: HFCS is a source of added sugar, and while it probably is not worse than regular sugar, it is generally added to products that are highly processed and unhealthy. It is a giveaway of a cheep, edible substance that probably does not qualify as real, wholesome, food
- If you can't read it, don't eat it: Would you like some aspartame with your yogurt? How about some butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) with your kid's cereal? Could you pass the tertiary butlydroquinone (TBHQ)? Humans are meant to eat food, not chemicals. If you see a bunch of words that sound better suited for a laboratory than a human body, than you are probably right. Leave the sodium nitrite, monosodium glutamate, sucralose, tartrazine, artificial flavors and colors, hydrolyzed protein, and hydrogenated oils for chemistry class, and pick some, ya know, actual food, for dinner.
- Watch out for sugar in disguise: Many forms of sugar exist and many food additives that are very high in sugar are added to products. Other versions of sugar besides just "sugar" are: high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, brown rice syrup (any type of syrup pretty much), evaporated cane juice, fructose, glucose, sucrose, dextrose (pretty much anything ending in -ose), maltodextrin (not technically a sugar, but it acts like sugar and is chemically similar), caramel, honey, fruit juice concentrate (contains small amounts of micronutrients, but it is almost all concentrated sugar), mannitol, sorbitol (sugar alcohols, these are pretty much anything ending in -tol).
- Make sure your grain products are 100% Whole Grains. Multigrain isnotwhole grain. f you see "100% Whole Wheat ____" (flour, barley ect.), or "Whole Wheat ____" (flour, rye, ect.) that is thewholewheat and you are good to go. If you see anything besides that, such as "enriched wheat flour", "reduced enriched wheat flour", "wheat flour", "unbleched flour" you are getting a nutrient poor refined carbohydrate, which is not good. Even if the package says something like "made with whole wheat" one the front, there may be only a minute amount of whole wheat actually in it. If the first ingredient is "wheat flour" and the 10th ingredient is "whole wheat flour" it is technically made with whole wheat, but not very much.
- Stay away from hydrogenated oil, it is trans fat.
Video: How To Read A Nutrition Label
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