Why is it important to Read Food Labels?
Food Labels: Cracking the Code
Food labels are meant to be informative, but are instead often misleading. Most food companies use misleading terms and unusual names on their food labels to hide the unhealthy ingredients they add to their products. If you are committed to eating only healthy food, then you need to crack the food label code and understand what it’s really telling you.
If you are serious about getting healthy then you need know how to read food labels. The labels have nutrition information that can make or break your diet. This is especially important if you are trying to manage a disease such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or high blood sugar. These are a few of the reasons why you should read food labels. In addition , calorie, protein and carbohydrate information is on the package . If you have food allergies or gluten intolerance this information is also on the package.
But some of the ingredients can be hard to figure out. Here is how to decode some of the most common ingredients.
It can be surprisingly difficult to determine how much salt there is in the food you buy. If you are trying to be careful about your salt intake, you should be aware that flavorings like soya sauce and stock cubes themselves contain high levels of salt. Cured ham and smoked fish also contain a lot of salt. It doesn’t necessarily help to check the nutritional information, either, because that is often written in a way that is misleading. Many of them list the amount of salt per 100 grams, not the salt in the entire package. To figure out how much salt the whole item contains, you have to multiply that figure by the weight of the food in grams. Sometimes the nutrition labels list sodium instead of salt. If you have high blood pressure then blood you need to be very aware of the sodium and salt content in food. Decreasing your salt intake can help improve your blood pressure.
If you are trying to avoid chemicals in your food, then you need to stay away from artificial colors and flavors. Sodium nitrite, benzoate, and sodium nitrate are all fancy names from chemical preservatives that can cause cancer and heart disease. MSG, also called monosodium glutamate, is another chemical to avoid, one that can cause nausea, chest pains, and headaches.
Today’s health conscious, calorie counting consumers try to avoid foods with a lot of sugar. To trick this kind of consumer, food labels often use sneaky alternative terms for sugar, such as evaporated cane juice, dehydrated cane juice, cane juice crystals, and cane crystals. Some food companies use a number of different types of sugar, each with a different name. This makes the casual consumer think there isn’t any sugar used at all. However, dextrose, glucose, fructose, sucrose, maltose, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, brown rice syrup, malt syrup, barley malt syrup, honey, fruit juice concentrate, turbinado, xylose, treacle, and lactose are all different kinds of sugar.
Sometimes fats are called “oils” on food labels, just so they don’t have to use the word “fat.” Also, not all fats are created equal. Trans fats are extremely unhealthy, even when eaten in small amounts. They raise your level of bad cholesterol and can cause serious heart disease issues. Because people are catching on to the health risks of trans fats, manufacturers often list them as hydrogenated oil or brominated vegetable oil.
Animal Product Codes
If you are staying away from animal products, you should know that rennet and gelatin are made from animal sources. Vegans, who even avoid cheese and milk products, should be aware that whey and casein come from dairy products. Also, you need to look at the nutrition label, and not just the ingredient list. If there is any amount of cholesterol in the food, then it uses animal products no matter how cleverly the ingredients list hides that fact. Cholesterol comes only from animals.
Avoid genetically modified foods, or GMOs, can be very difficult. Food labels often try to hide them. You should be aware that any processed foods that have high fructose corn syrup or soy products on their ingredient lists most likely contain GMOs. Any corn products carry a significant risk of being made from genetically modified corn, so you should also avoid those if GMOs are a significant concern.
As a general rule, if you have a food-related health issue and you are not sure what an ingredient actually is, don’t take the risk. Instead, choose something with a simpler, clearer list of ingredients.