Expert Speak: A Guide To Read Nutrition Labels

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nutrition labels

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Today, most people have become health conscious and prefer to eat as healthily as possible. But there are times when you are travelling or just not in a mood to cook and might look for an option that’s easy and convenient. You might pick something processed to grab a quick bite, but if you don’t know what’s in it, you can say bye-bye to the health trajectory you might have been on. Luckily, there is a way to avoid that from happening.

 

Making sure you are eating foods that create health is the key to healing your body, mind and soul. Even if you consume processed foods, you can scan through the nutrition labels and choose the healthiest option of the lot. It won’t fill the shoes of natural foods but will satisfy your hunger and offer some nutrition to your body.

nutrition labels

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That being said, manufacturers try to trick the consumers by adding words like ‘no additives’ and ‘natural’ or ‘low fat’ or ‘gluten-free’ on the labels, creating a fake health halo around food and making people believe that the product is good for them, which is not necessarily true. The only way to outsmart this kind of marketing is to know what to look for. Here are three things that you should note while going through the labels of processed foods as guided by Mugdha Pradhan, functional nutritionist and founder of Thrive FNC. 

Pay Attention To Ingredients On The Label

For instance, high sugary foods are not good for any individual. So, if you see added sugar, avoid that food. Seed oils can trigger insulin resistance and inflammation. So, if you see sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, palm oil on the labels please avoid these foods – coconut oil and ghee are relatively safer.  Other nutrients like gluten, hydrogenated fat, soy, corn, and high fructose corn syrup are other additives found in packaged foods and these can quickly take you away from health.


Check For Permitted Artificial Colours

Manufacturers use permitted artificial colours or flavours and preservatives to extend the shelf life or improve taste of products. Most of these compounds are often carcinogenic or can even trigger liver inflammation. If you find these written on the label, run in the opposite direction.


Check Serving Sizes and Calories

Always make it a point to check the serving size and calories/sugar etc. For example, if you buy a one-litre cold pressed juice bottle, where one portion is about 200 ml per person and you end up consuming the entire bottle thinking you are only consuming the number of calories/sugar printed on the label, you are being misled. Calculate the total amount of sugar, calories etc for the entire amount you might consume.

nutrition labels

Image: Shutterstock

 

Aman Puri, founder of Steadfast Nutrition also shares a few pointers while reading labels:

  • Do not get deluded by catchy phrases like low-calorie, low-fat, low-cholesterol and sugar-free. Food labelling regulations are complex to understand.
  • Low calorie means not more than 40 Kcal per 100 grams.
  • Fat-free may not actually be completely free of fats. Any product can claim to be fat-free provided the fat content is not more than 0.5 grams per 100 grams.
  • Low-cholesterol food products may have up to 20 mg cholesterol per 100 grams.
  • Sugar-free foods may also contain 0.5 grams sugar per 100 grams.
  • Food companies may also add sugar with other less common names like beet sugar, golden syrup, molasses, barley malt, etc.

 

By sticking to the above information, you will be able to filter out the worst offenders. When it comes to packaged food, it is always recommended to look for small brands that are focused on creating good quality products. As they want to make a name for themselves, they are extremely careful with the ingredients used and are a good option for someone looking to consume packaged foods while on the run.

Also Read: 10 High Protein Vegetables To Try Out Now!

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