When we buy processed foods there is a lot of unsaid information or stuff said explicitly. Just like we read between the lines in legal documents, we need to analyze food labels too.
A lot of us think that we understand what we read on labels but we miss what the label is actually saying.
Here are few tips to help you decipher labels in the supermarket:
- There is a difference between portion sizes and serving sizes
A serving size is the recommended amount we should eat, while a portion size is the amount we choose to eat. A lot of packages contain more than one serving. So read if the package has your serving size.
Eating based on portion size will only lead you to eat more and gain unnecessary weight.
- Choose food with labels that limit unhealthy fats and sodium
All food labels break down the nutritional value of the food product.Saturated and trans-fats can raise “bad” cholesterol and lower “good” cholesterol, so limit the intake of these. Too much of sodium intake will add unnecessary strain to the heart so it is best to avoid it.
Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are considered “heart-healthy” because they often help to lower cholesterol and come from plant-based foods like avocados, fish, nuts and seeds. Although these foods are healthy sources of fat, they should be consumed in moderation because they are still high in calories.
- Opt for natural sugars over added sugar
Limit foods with added sugar which often appears listed in the ingredients on a label as sugar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup/sweetener, cane sugar, fructose, maltose, glucose or maple sugar.
Naturally occurring sugar is found in whole foods, such as fruit, yogurt and milk.
- Stick to whole grain foods
Whole grains contain fiber, which reduces your risk of developing diseases like diabetes, heart disease and more…
It is best if “whole grain” is first on the ingredient list. Avoid wheat breads or other products with “enriched white flour” as the first ingredient.
Reading labels can be tricky but once you get the hang of it you will land up making healthier choices for your family and yourself.