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Understanding Food Labels

Just because a food is packaged and labelled as being healthy does not mean that this is the case and so you shouldn’t necessarily trust the information that you are given.
Therefore, reading food labels and looking at the list of ingredients is the key to ensuring that you are making healthy choices when shopping.

Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.
— Jim Rohn

Here are tips for reading and understanding food labels:

  1. Watch out for health claims that are stated on a product as these can be misleading and the food might not be as healthy as you are led to believe. For example, foods that are marketed as low fat or lower in fat tend to be high in sugar to make the product taste better so be warned of these health claims
  2. The ingredients are listed in descending order of weight used, i.e. if White Flour is listed in the first few items then that tells you that the product is high in white flour.  Also make sure that you read the 100g column as this will give you a
  3. Clearer picture of what you are eating. Manufacturers will frequently list a 30g serving size but this is often not a realistic portion size
  4. Ingredients can be disguised by using different names, e.g. sugar can be listed as honey, nectar, corn syrup or as glucose, fructose etc. (anything ending in -ose are all sugar enzymes)
  5. Many food colourings, additives and preservatives are added to food which may not be good for you.  A good rule is that if you can’t pronounce anything or have never heard of it then think carefully about putting this into your body
  6. Avoid foods that contain trans fat – hydrogenated fats – as these fats have been altered and can cause oxidative stress in the body

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