Are you reading the information on labels on your packaged foods correctly? We don’t think so…Food labels are often more convoluted than they appears to our busy minds, camouflaging essential information within it.
Look out for Serving size
Simply put, size matters. The nutrition table gives the quantum of nutrients PER SERVING. So the size of the serving determines the amount of nutrients. Before you devour your favorite bag of chips, take a look at how many “servings” are there in the packet and determine how many will you consume. Similarly, calories indicate the number of calories that you consume per serving of the food – in other words, the total energy generated in the body by consuming one serving
Spot the hidden ingredients
- Hidden Sugars in the form of Fructose, Sucrose, Dextrose: Manufacturers use a variety of ingredients in the form of honey or corn sweeteners, which add calories to your plate, without providing any real nutrition. When in doubt, stay away from all the ‘ose’ ingredients!
- Partially hydrogenated oils: These are an absolute no-no, as partially hydrogenated oils are a primary source of trans-fat. Packed foods that contain up to half a gram of trans-fat per serving, often masquerade as ‘trans-fat free’.
- Artificial Sweeteners, as in Sucralose, Saccharin, Aspartame, Acesulfam: A sweetener by any other name is still a sweetener. Although these are preferred by some over sugar, artificial sweeteners are still advised in moderation.
- Preservatives: Watch out for names such as Sodium Nitrite and Sodium Nitrate and Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) that are definitely a health risk.
When looking at the nutrients table…
These are nutrients that the body needs in large quantities and are our major source of energy.
- Fat is a necessary evil – a moderate amount between 20 and 35 percent of your total calories should come from fat. However, it is essential to opt for monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats instead of saturated and trans-fats.
- Watch out for sodium labels -The target is to keep daily sodium intake less than 1500 milligrams per day. Consuming a mere 15 chips can add 170 mg of sodium to your daily intake!
The secret to a healthy life is eating right. And the journey begins with being informed, and decoding food labels and nutrition facts of items you consume