How To Read Nutrition Labels on Food Products

How To Read Nutrition Labels on Food ProductsThe popular author on the subject of healthy diet, Michael Pollan, in his book “In Defense of Food” proposes that if our grandmother cannot “interpret” the ingredients on the labels of food products, we should not use those products. This advice makes sense, considering the fact that the real natural food, which is rich in nutritional properties (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes) does not need a label with ingredients that tell us what exactly it contains and why are they “good” for us.

Today, many of us could not imagine the life without purchasing a product from the store, but what we can do is to read the food labels carefully, so that we know what we actually eat (you should be especially careful when you buy food for your child).

Maybe you did not know that there are many different names for sugar in the products (for which perhaps you would never think that it means sugar): corn syrup, brown rice syrup (integral), glucose, sucrose, dextrose, dehydrated sugar cane juice, glucose syrup, fructose syrup…

Pay attention to the percentage of the sugar in the food or the beverages (especially of those that you buy for your children), so you can avoid a situation when you buy a “sugar bomb” for your child instead of “healthy” grains.

Maybe you did not know, but the fruit and vegetable juices from the stores may contain the same amount of sugar as the soft drinks.

Pay attention to the fat percentage in the products, as well as what kind of fat it is. The “undesirable” fats in the food products are cholesterol, saturated fats, and hydrogenated vegetable fats.

If the label says “hydrogenated vegetable fat”, it is actually (in the spoken language) a margarine, which is not recommended in the diet. Unfortunately, most snacks, cookies, cakes and other foods contain this ingredient, even the bread and pastries. At least try to reduce the intake of the hydrogenated vegetable oils, and take care of their percentage in the products.

Often, you can read on the labels various ingredients with e-tags. Some of these (allowed with the law on food production) additives are potentially dangerous to the health if they are consumed in higher quantities, and even potentially carcinogenic!

If you are a vegetarian or a vegan, you should pay attention to the additives, because they can hide a variety of substances of animal origin (such as the gelatin, which is obtained by boiling animal bones).

If you or your child is allergic to a certain food ingredient, it is important to read each label carefully, in order to determine whether there is the allergen in the composition of the products you buy or eat.

Everything that has been said can be summarized in a few simple tips

Give priority to those food products that contain as many ingredients as you can “interpret”, and as few additives as it is possible (ingredients with “strange”, long and complicated names or E-mark).

Give priority to the products that have a shorter shelf life, since it is very likely that they contain a lot less preservatives.

Pay attention to the additives of animal origin (if you are a vegetarian or a vegan).

Give priority to the products with less added sugar and avoid products with hydrogenated vegetable oils (“margarine”).

Whenever it is possible, you should buy fresh ingredients and make a meal at home. The family meal at the table is the basis for healthy eating habits (here you can read why is the family meal so important).

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