Do you read the nutrition facts label? The ingredients label? Or do you just read the front of the package? Unfortunately there are a lot of claims being made on food packages these days, and most aren’t always what you think! How can you be a better food detective? Read below!
Have you chosen a product labeled “natural” or “all-natural” over a regular one for health purposes? Guess what?!? There are no official guidelines for the term “natural”! The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t have any set criteria for what can and cannot be labeled with natural. So, if you are purchasing those “all-natural” cookies because you believe they are healthier and made with pure ingredients, you could be wrong! Your best bet… read the ingredients list for the full story.
There are tons of gluten-free products on the grocery shelves today. Gluten-free foods are made specifically for individuals that have the autoimmune celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. They must eat a gluten-free diet to prevent their small intestine from flaring up since their bodies cannot digest the protein gluten. Sadly, the average consumer believes gluten-free means “nutritious”… which is not the case. These products just do not have gluten… they can still be loaded with added fats and sugars, so once again, read the nutrition facts label and ingredients list!
This label claim refers to how the products were produced, grown, or raised. For produce, it means no pesticides, fertilizers, or bioengineering has taken place. For meat, poultry and eggs, it means the animals aren’t given antibiotics or growth hormones. In summary, “organic” has NOTHING to do with the nutritional content of the food! So resist the urge to assume organic foods are automatically more wholesome. So read the ingredients label, and good news, the USDA DOES regulate this label.
Read the ingredients list, and the first word should be “whole”. Whether whole grain, whole wheat, whole oat… that is the key. Whole-grain foods have fiber in them, which is important for heart health, blood sugar regulation, satiety, and gut health. Just because a product has whole grains in them, and proudly states it on the front of the package, doesn’t mean it contains a lot of them. So check the nutrition facts label and ingredients as always!
TAKE HOME MESSAGE
While nutrition-related label claims can sometimes help you make a better choice, you MUST READ THE NUTRITION FACTS & INGREDIENTS LIST to get the whole picture.
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