D E C O D I N G Food Labels
September is the mark of a new school year. The best way you can give your kids an academic edge this school year is by making smart food choices to feed their hungry minds. Knowing what to look for on nutrition labels will keep you falling prey to confusing measurements and misleading claims.
Here’s my cheat sheet for reading Nutrition Facts Labels:
1. INGREDIENT LIST – Read this first. Ingredients are listed in order of quantity, from most to least. Make a point to buy products when you’re able to identify everything on the ingredient list.
2. SERVING SIZE – Serving sizes can be sneaky. You may be surprised to see how many servings are in a container. Often, they are smaller than the average person will eat.
3. FAT – More important than the number of grams is the type of fat you are eating. The fat in nuts, seeds & avocados are a much healthier “nutrient dense” choice than a “low-fat” cracker made of refined flour.
4. FIBER – Breakfast cereals , bread and snacks are often marketed as “high fiber”. However these fibers are functional fibers added to foods to boost their fiber content. Getting fiber from whole foods; whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and grains is my recommendation.
5. CALORIES- Not all calories are created equal. Calories are a measure of the energy that is generated from food once inside the body. 150 calories of almonds and 150 calories of soda may be equal in number but discount variables such as nutrients, protein, fat and fiber.
6. SUGAR – Nutrition fact labels do not differentiate between added sugar and naturally occurring sugar. A whole fruit like an apple has nutrients, antioxidants and fiber which helps slows down the absorption of sugar verses fruit juice, which has been stripped of its fiber and nutrients, cause blood sugar spikes leaving you craving more.
As you are rushing to get your shopping done, remember, the most valuable information is the INGREDIENTS.. A good rule of thumb, the shorter the ingredients list, the better. Give your family an academic edge; choose food made by Mother Nature. No label reading required.