We’re in a time and age where fast food has become the order of the day, leading to many undesired health effects such as obesity, hypertension, heart diseases, etc. In the process, a lot of individuals have developed a craze to eat healthy. But whilst in this mix and rush of healthy eating, some, if not most, of the people have become deceived when choosing their foods. This deception has come mainly through reading the food labelling and ingredients panel incorrectly or from a misinformed position.
You need to be aware of a couple of key things when reading food nutrition facts and the ingredients panel. The first thing is the order in which the ingredients are put. Usually the ingredient that is present in the highest amounts is the first to be listed. In other words, if a loaf of bread is labelled 100% whole wheat, when you go to the ingredients panel, whole wheat should be the first or at least one of the first ingredients. If it’s nowhere near the top then that “100% whole wheat” labelling was just a phoney. So looking at the ingredients panel at the back will help to show you just what exactly is in the food you’re about to choose. So just because something is labelled to be healthy or to contain something healthy doesn’t necessarily mean that it is healthy or contains that particular claim.
Another thing to be aware of when looking at the ingredients list is isolating certain or a single ingredient and thereby labelling the food as “healthy”. The presence of just one healthy ingredient does not make the food healthy. Other factors come into play also. For one, how much of this “healthy ingredient” is present in the food in the first place? For all you know it could just be 5% of all the ingredients! Also what else is in the food?
And present in what amounts? These questions lead us to the next thing that you need to be aware of; the nutrition facts panel.
It’s important that you not just take a look at but also understand the nutrition facts of your chosen food. This will help you to know just what nutritional value, if any, that you’ll get from that food or beverage. Nutrition facts not only show you the calories that the particular food or beverage has but also the amounts of the other nutrients, minerals and vitamins contained in the food. Pay particular attention to things such as total fat, cholesterol, trans fat, sodium and sugar contents. Too much of these can lead to adverse health effects. So don’t be fooled if a particular food is said to be a great source of dietary fiber and when you look at the nutrition facts, the amount of sodium is more that 50% of your daily recommended value. In fact, what’s just important is that you look at the nutrition facts and ingredients panel and weigh out the benefits and disadvantages you’ll get from that particular food or beverage.
Final recap: Check out the ingredients list of the food or beverage that you want to have. The top ingredient is the one that is present in the highest amounts. Also remember to check out the nutrition facts panel of that food or beverage. Watch out for things that may bring about problems for your health. Secondly, do not isolate a certain “healthy” ingredient you’ve seen on the ingredients panel and declare that particular food to be healthy. Read through all the ingredients and don’t forget what we’ve just mentioned: the nutrition facts panel. And finally, beware of certain healthy foods which have substances added to them that may instantly make them, well, not so healthy. An example of this is yogurt. Yogurt is a great healthy snack. However, you need to watch out for yogurts that are labelled “sweetened”. This means that they have more sugar added to them. Sugar by itself is not bad, but too much sugar may be problematic to your health in the long run.