March 06, 2015

The Truth Behind Nutrition Labels

Nutrition Labels seem like your main guide when you head out for grocery shopping, but even in this small black and white chart, marketers have managed to infuse their gimmicks and strategies to scam you into believing that the food that you’re buying is extremely healthy. But it may not be so, which is why it is time to learn the truth behind these nutrition labels once and for all. 

 How many times do you end up picking a whole grain muffin over a normal one, or even biscuits for that matter? Or how often do you pay a few bucks extra for stuff that reads, ‘0 Trans Fat’, ‘Fat free’, ‘Low in sugar’,’ High in Fiber’ etc. But how much of that stuff is actually worth it? The answer is pretty surprising. 

Fat free, means product contains 0.5 g or less fat per serving, so it’s technically not fat free. The serving size of a packet of cookies may be given as really small, for which the fat content may be shown as very low or insignificant. But you consume almost double or triple of that small serving size at once which makes the fat content much more then what you saw while purchasing. 
Another trick brands use is, that they claim to have healthy fat free products but spike up the sugar and sodium levels in the bargain. Not so healthy now is it? 

Low in Fat means product has 3g or less fat per serving. Almost all cereals, breads, pastas, grains are low in fat. When buying such products also make sure these products give you less sugar, sodium and more fiber. Because often low in fat food have more sugar. 

Another big claim is that the food contains 0 Trans-fat or Trans-fat free, means it has 0.2g of Trans-fat & 2g of Saturated and trans fat combined per serving. What you need to be careful about is that the food doesn’t contain saturated fat, partially hydrogenated oil or shortening which are direct substitutes and dangerous enough to cause cholesterol in the long run. These days a new claim is being advertised by food companies, 

Cholesterol-free, it means less than 2mg of cholesterol per serving. Companies only highlight what consumers want to see and easily dupe them. Cholesterol- free vegetable oil doesn’t have cholesterol in first place because cholesterol is found only in animal based food. If your product says cholesterol free, does it also mean its fat free? Not necessary! 

 If your food product says it’s a good or excellent source of certain Vitamin, don’t pick it up blindly, Have a look at the back , product should have at least 15% of that vitamin to be claimed as good source and 25% for an excellent source, According to RDI (Recommended Daily Intake). 

Made with real fruit is another claim that gets a lot of victims in grocery stores every day. Fruit juices for example that makes this claim, contain sugar as their primary ingredient in the form of sugar, fructose and fruit juice concentrate (which is the only real fruity ingredient in the juice) which make the juice nothing but candy! 

Sugar free food products means you are consuming 0.5g of sugar and just 5 calories per serving. Sugar free items are made with a sugar substitute keeping people with diabetes and weight watchers in mind. But not every brand can give you healthy & sugar free product. Make sure in bargain to get sugar free food you don’t end consuming more fat and sodium. 

Be a smart shopper, if label says No Sugar added, look at front and back of the product. Because usually products like honey, molasses, syrups, fruit juices do have natural sugar. So don’t just believe blindly. 

Product you just bought says low in sodium? Well it does contain 140mg or less sodium per serving. According to health experts, our daily requirement of sodium is 1500-2300 mg but we always consume more than this. Low sodium food might be high in fat, so check for sodium and fat before buying. Because buying low sodium food product which is high in fat doesn’t make any sense. 

Wait we aren’t done yet, the last claim is Fiber. Fiber rich foods are flooding the markets today and foods such as biscuits, breads, juices, drinks, and even ice creams claim to be ‘Fiber rich’. This Fiber is nothing but purified powder which is completely useless and doesn’t do much good to the body but helps these brands market their products much better and charge us a bomb. 

Organic foods are so much in demand these days. From chilies to lentils, everything has gone organic. Are they really an organic produce or a fake claim. Product should have 95% or more of organic content, so please beware! 

It’s high time we learnt that what we’re shown couldn’t be further from the truth. Read every nutritional label carefully and check serving sizes, fat content, sugar content and sodium content together before purchasing. Wake up, save your health and your wealth!

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