Hey Friends! How’s it goin?
I’m sitting at home almost in tears at the loss of the warmer weather we had yesterday 🙁
My family and Trini friends think it’s hilarious that I call 5C ‘warmer weather’. But when you’ve experienced -30s, 5C seems positively boiling 😆
Nutrition Facts Panel vs. Ingredient ListAs you know, I’m pretty happy about the proposed changes to nutrition labels. Hopefully, it will make it easier for the average person make healthier and more informed food choices.
However, like many readers commented last week, I generally pay more attention to the ingredient list than the nutrition facts panel.
Because knowing what’s actually in my food is more important to me than the calorie count.
So many low-calorie, low-fat, low-sodium, low-everything foods have ingredient lists that read like the inside of a chemistry text book, with no real, whole foods in sight.
And that is not okay for me or my body.
Don’t get me wrong, I definitely don’t eat all natural all the time. But even when eating processed foods, the ingredient list can give some invaluable information.
The only problem is that the ingredient list can be just as hard to understand as the nutrition facts panel 😕
The lists are long and recognizable words are few and far between, so most people just don’t bother. I would know. I used to be one of them.
But over the last year I’ve learned a few things can make it a little easier to choose healthier foods based on the ingredient list.
You don’t want to buy something that has an ingredient list that’s longer than your arm. Foods that have less than 5 ingredients are generally less processed and contain more whole foods.
2. The first few are key
Did you know that ingredients are listed in descending order by weight? That means that the most predominant ingredients are usually listed at the top. So if you pick up a can of tomato sauce and tomatoes are the last thing on the list…put it back and RUN!
3. Look out for sugar
Sugar can creep up on you from anywhere. It’s hidden in ‘healthy’ cereals, pasta sauce, salad dressings, yogurt and so much more. Be mindful of how much sugar you’re actually consuming and make sure that it isn’t in the first few ingredients.
Common names for sugar: corn syrup, fruit juice extract, brown rice syrup, fructose, glucose, cane juice and more.
Tip: Anything that ends in ‘ose’ is usually sugar.
4. Other things are hiding too
Sugar isn’t the only ‘nutrient’ that frequently appears on ingredient lists by another name.
Saturated Fats: Cocoa butter, coconut or coconut oil, hydrogenated fats and oils, lard, shortening
Trans Fats: Hard margarine, hydrogenated fats and oils, partially hydrogenated fats and oils
Sodium: MSG, baking powder, baking soda, brine
5. Stick to whole foods
This isn’t a tip, so much as a suggestion: Most of your food shouldn’t have an ingredient list at all. I’m talking about fruits, vegetables, ground provisions, fresh spices and herbs etc. If buying whole foods is an option, take it!
What about you?
Do you look at the nutrition facts panel or the ingredient list first?
Do you have any other tips for understanding the ingredient list?
Share in the comments below!