While the Nutrition Fact label can tell you a lot about a food, you need to check the ingredients list to see what you’re really eating. Is your breakfast cereal made with whole grains or does your favorite salad dressing contain oil that is high in saturated fat, for example.
By law, ingredients lists must be ordered by weight. The heaviest ingredient goes first, followed by the next heaviest, and so on. It is not a good sign if sugar is the first ingredient in a cereal or when bad fats like partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oils are the third ingredient listed on a can of biscuit dough.
Below is a list of common phrases found on many food packages:
Cholesterol Free or No Cholesterol: Don’t be fooled by the words No Cholesterol written across the label of a jar of peanut butter or bottle of canola oil. If you turn to the Nutrition Facts label, you’ll see that no brand of either food has cholesterol – and never did! Only foods of animal origin contain cholesterol. But manufacturers hope you don’t know that.
Light: This word is used to describe fat content, taste, or color. If the manufacturer is describing the fat content as “light,” the product has at least 50 percent less fat than the original. The label must also say “50% less fat than our regular product.” “Light” olive oil, on the other hand, describes the oil’s color. The oil is as caloric as regular olive oil, but has been processed to remove some of its flavor. A muffin mix can say “light and fluffy” as a way to describe its texture or consistency.
Low-Fat or Fat-Free: Low-fat products must contain 3 grams or less fat per serving and fat-free products must have less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving. But check the number of calories – that number could be very high. It is easy to gain lots of weight eating fat-free cookies because they are loaded with sugar.
Low Sodium or Light In Sodium: This means that the sodium was cut by at least 50 percent over the original product. Be careful when using a “low” version of a super-high-sodium food such as soy sauce or soup. You can still end up consuming a lot of sodium. Check the numbers on the Nutrition Fact Label.
Sugar-Free, No Added Sugars, Without Added Sugars: A sugar-free chocolate candy may not contain a speck of sugar, but it’s still got plenty of fat and calories. Be sure to check out the Nutrition Facts label to know how many calories and grams of saturated fat you’re consuming.
Sweetened With Fruit Juice, Fruit Juice Sweetener, or Fruit Juice Concentrate: These sweeteners are made by reducing fruit juice (usually grape juice) into a sticky sweetener. These sweeteners are not nutritious. They are just like sugar.
“Work With What You Got!”
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