Become a savvy label reader and you will make healthier food choices.
Labels serve as a podium for consumer education, meaning it’s the small print in the ingredients list and the nutrition information table that you should take notice of, to make sure you know what your are getting. The rules state that labels should have descriptions and nutrition claims. The contents must be stated correctly with ingredients listed in descending order of mass. Meaning that if salt is at the top of the list, you know it is the primary ingredient. Allergens must be identified, and the country of origin stated. There must also be a ‘best before’ date.
The levels of additives are regulated and regarded as safe but opt for foods with fewer preservatives, colours and other additives whenever possible.
LIST OF INGREDIENTS
GMO ~ Product contains micro-organisms that have been altered using genetic engineering, in order to improve yield, nutrient content, pest resistance, appearance, spoilage and other criteria
HYDROGENATED ~ Hydrogenation turns a liquid fat, such as vegetable oil, into a semi-solid, more shelf-stable fat, such as margarine. Most oils are partially hydrogenated which creates harmful trans fats that can increase disease risk
HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP ~ A sweetener which, when consumed liberally, can increase the risk of many lifestyle diseases. It is found mainly in beverages, ice creams, milkshakes, flavoured syrups, canned products and sweet snacks.
ENRICHED ~ Nutrients that are lost during food processing are added back into the product, such as bread, pasta and cereals.
DIETARY FIBER ~ Whole grains, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds contain fiber. Fiber helps you feel full and regulates your bowels, but can’t be digested. High-fiber food should contain at least 6g of fiber per 100g
EMULSIFIERS ~ One of the most commonly used food additive. They are used to prevent oil and water based products from separating, such as mayonnaise and salad dressings.
FORTIFIED ~ Foods that contain added nutrients that weren’t there in the first place. For example milk, cereal or juice.
ANTIOXIDANTS ~ Synthetic or naturally occurring substances that counter free radicals associated with the development of cancer and age-related diseases. They may also be added to food to prevent oxidation or rancidity.
MONOUNSATURATED FAT ~ Healthy type of fat found mostly in plant foods such as avocados, nuts and olive oil. These can help reduce the level of bad cholesterol.
FOOD COLOUR ~ Various colours are added to food primarily for appearance such as yellow, red and green. Some colours are derived from vegetables or fruit, but others are artificial or synthetic. Many people experience intolerance to artificial or synthetic colours. Food colour are mainly used in drinks, candies, cookies and some canned foods.
IT’S SIMPLE when purchasing products, the fewer ingredients on the label, the better for your health, particularly if they are difficult to pronounce or you don’t know what they are. Products with added salt and sugar are best consumed sparingly.
The general rule is ~ the further away the product is from its natural state, the less healthy it is likely to be.