When we step into a grocery store we are overloaded with a variety of heath foods. Many stores have a separate section for health food items. It gets overwhelming walking through these aisles and trying to find the right products for ourselves. Many a times we think that just because some food package is placed in a health food section in the store, it’s healthy and we bring that home. Later, we wonder why our health statistics are not meeting our expectations even if we eat correctly. Here comes the role of reading the nutrition labels correctly. Many of you might think that it’s very easy to read the labels because it’s all about calories, but that’s not true. If only calories were a factor for weight loss then a majority of the population would not have to work hard in the gym to have a great body or to be skinny. Therefore, it is important to know how to correctly read the nutrition label on food.
Here are some of the guidelines that we should look for while reading the nutrition labels on food.
1. First and foremost, when we buy whole grain products the front of the package should always say 100%. If this 100% isn’t mentioned that means the grains are mixed with enriched flour.
2. Once you get hold of 100% whole grains/100% whole wheat, read the ingredients. It should say whole grains. If they mention enriched flour anywhere that means the germs and bran have been removed and that the product isn’t healthy enough for us.
3. Next comes the sugar content. Many a times just to make products customer friendly they say sugar free and out of excitement we buy those products, thereby encouraging the companies to write false labels. Read the labels carefully and be aware of the various ways through which sugar can be added, mostly in the form of chemicals. For example – brown rice syrup, corn syrup, palm sugar, fructose or glucose. Again if sugar (by any name) is the first two ingredients avoid buying those products.
4. Sodium results in water retention, weight gain and high blood pressure in our body so we should always opt for low sodium products. Sodium, salt and soda are the forms that sodium will be listed in the nutrition labels.
5. Fiber, is a very important ingredient which is required by our body to facilitate the metabolism smoothly. Always aim for at least 3 g of fiber per servings in the nutrition label. The more the fiber the better is the product.
6. Fat is contained in almost all the foods but to find the right product always look for healthy unsaturated fats. If the nutrition label shows that most of the fats come from unsaturated fats you can happily buy that food. You should avoid consuming trans-fat in all circumstances but at the same time be careful of the labeling farce when they say 0 gram trans-fat. Trans fat have been found to imbalance the HDL and LDL in a human body so read the ingredients if they mention hydrogenated oil or shortening. These terms contain trans-fat.
7. Now comes the calorie which is the first thing that we all look at. But remember if your basics are correct in the food product you should not worry about the calories because sometimes eating a little more calories might be beneficial. You might be able to save yourself from many harmful chemicals that are mixed in the product in order to reduce the calories.
8. The other vitamins and minerals which come under Daily Value (DV) should be between 10-19% in the food labels.
If you understand the nutrition labels of the food correctly it becomes easy to live a healthy lifestyle and we can be assured that we are eating healthy.
Health tip of the week
“Spend time to read the nutrition labels before buying your food and live healthier and happier”.