Baffled by the unpronounceable ingredient names that are stuck behind any edible packaged product you buy from store? Heave a sigh of relief as you are not the only one in the crowd. We unveil the truth behind the scary labels on what is good for you and what not! So, let’s check out the brighter side of the story and make a smart choice while buying. After all, what you eat should worth the moolah you spend!

fatsThere are three types of fats you will find on the labels— Saturated fat, Unsaturated fat and Trans fat. The healthiest one among these is unsaturated fat. So, when you see the food you are buying has unsaturated fats, don’t cringe. Put it in your cart, coz this is known as healthy fat. But, when the source is majorly trans fat or saturated fats, don’t think twice to chuck it. Even some of the labels are misleading as the product might contain up to 0.5 grams trans fat per serving though the label lists 0 grams.  Trans fat is also present in hydrogenated oil and shortening.

Why is it harmful?

Trans fat and saturated fat increase the levels of LDL cholesterol i.e. “bad” cholesterol and decreases “good” HDL cholesterol. It’s harmful for your body as this increases the risk of heart disease. As a matter of fact, trans fats wreak more damage as compared to saturated fatty acids.

sodiumSodium is one of the essential components in our body and there should a balance between water and sodium chloride to help the body function at its best. The health experts recommend it should not exceed 805 milligrams (mg) per serving and on an average 2,300 mg per day.

Why is it harmful?

Sodium if not taken moderately can increase the chances of stomach cancer, coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and kidney diseases.

vitaminsThe nutritional value of any food item can be measured based on Daily Value (DV). Look at the label if the food contains between 10 to 19 percent nutrition of the Daily Value as this amount is considered to be good for health.

Why is it good for health?

Vitamins and minerals help in strengthening bones, protecting vision, controls tooth decay, heal wounds, and boost your immune system. They also help converting food into energy, and restore cellular damage.

fiberAccording to health experts, food containing 3 grams or more per serving should be considered as high in fiber.

Why is it good for health?

Fiber helps normalizing bowel movements, lowering blood cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, and weight management.

calorie countThe crucial part of the label is calorie count. For many people, this is the first and most important stop on the label. The nutrients that add calories to food are carbohydrates, fat, and protein.

Why is it harmful?

To maintain a healthy balance, Health experts suggest consuming 1800 calories per day for men and 1200 calories per day for women. More calories may cause gaining unwanted body weight.

sugarsManufacturers get creative to hide the actual amount of sugar used in the food item by mentioning it in different names such as malt syrup, invert sugar, natural sweetener, brown rice syrup, fructose, palm sugar, or glucose.

Why is it harmful?

Everyday we consume sugar from different foods, be it in tea or coffee or any processed foods. According to Health Experts, sugar consumption should be limited to live a healthier life as this adds empty calories without any nutrition value. There are a number of reasons why you should cut sugar out of your diet. To mention a few, sugar can make your blood acidic, increase chances of osteoporosis, arthritis, gallstones, hypoglycemia, and eczema; increases chances of teeth decay, increases blood sugar level, and leads to diabetes and obesity.

whole grainsWhole grains are rich in fiber and nutrients. When you are scanning the label, look for something that starts with “whole” such as whole cornmeal, whole wheat, whole oat flour, and whole millet. If the label stamp mentions 100% whole grains, it is likely that the food contains a full serving of whole grain in each serving mentioned in the label, whereas the general Whole Grain Stamp on food items means that the food contain at least half a serving of whole grain in each serving as per the serving mentioned in the label.

Why is it good for health? 

Whole grains lower the risk of cancer, heart diseases, reduces hypertension, lowers the risk of gestational diabetes, lowers unhealthy cholesterol level, lowers the risk of depression. These are only a few of the benefits that we derive from whole grain foods. According to studies conducted by Nutritionists, it has been established that whole grains serve as an essential component of a healthy and balanced diet to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Now, that we have decoded the reality behind the teeth-cracking names on labels on food products, use your own discretion on choosing the right food for your family health. So, next time you visit the supermarket, don’t get intimidated by the labels, you have enough information to choose wisely. Happy Shopping!

3 COMMENTS

  1. This is very helpful for people like me who struggle to understand the language of nutrition labels. Well written. Thank you!

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