Friday, 21 August 2015

Nutrition Labels on food items : Facts

The day I started keeping an eye on what I am eating ( for losing fat I got after pregnancy J ), I started noticing "Nutrition Labels"  on back of every food item. This was to check how many calories I am consuming. But to be honest it was so complex to read it !! I have mastered reading complex software code in these many years but this was something out-of-the-way. There were many other terms like "trans-fats", "Preservatives", "Stabilizers" which were pure "X" to me. So I read about it and collected the facts. Here are few points which can help you in understanding how these "Nutrition Labels" are hiding facts and making us fool:

1. You can start your label reading adventure by looking at the "serving size" first. If a half-cup serving has 50 calories, but you usually eat a one-cup serving, you'll be getting 100 calories.

2. Low Fat : Be careful as 'low fat' may not always mean 'low calories'. More often to make up for the fat, food manufacturers can add other ingredients to compensate for the flavor, like sugar, flour, thickeners, and salt.

3. Natural Flavors : "It’s so natural, let’s have it in good amount!". Aren't we all attracted to labels that scream the word - Natural? It's important to note that both artificial flavors as well as natural flavors have chemicals. The point is where do these chemicals come from. In natural flavors, the chemicals have to be derived from a plant or an animal (something that is eaten) whereas artificial flavors are derived from inedible sources. So It’s not so natural and it has a complex chemical composition.

4. Stabilizers and Thickeners: These are added to improve and stabilize the texture of foods. These are found in jellies, ready-to-eat foods, desserts, frozen foods and salad dressings and they neither stabilize your health nor preserve it.

5. Preservatives : Preservatives prevent the growth of bacteria in foods during storage. And they actually have no nutrition value.

6.  High Fructose & Corn Syrup: This is a top favorite with the packaged food industry. You will find it everywhere, in ketchup bottles, biscuits, baked goods, dairy products, carbonated drinks, you name it! High fructose corn syrup is an artificial sweetener made from corn. It's popular because it is sweeter than sugar, is relatively cheaper. Fructose is worse that sugar as it leads to belly fat as well as high bad cholesterol.

7. Coloring Agents: Food coloring or color additive is a substance that adds color to your food. Vibrant colors make food more appealing. Synthetic colors do not add to the nutritive value of the foods. According to Rule 28 of The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act in India, the colors that can be chemically produced are red, yellow, blue and green. Also, they can only be used in specific foods like ice-cream, frozen desserts, flavored milk, yoghurt, biscuits, custard powders etc. No one follows this !!

8. Artificial Sweeteners: Artificial sweeteners are synthetic sugar substitutes. Saccharin, Aspartame, Acesulfame-K, Sucralose, Neotame, Glycerol, Erythritol, Maltitol, Lactitol are some of its substitutes. Sweet is not sweet for our health, you know this well.

9. MSG or Monosodium Glutamate:  It is used as a flavor enhancer and is found in salad dressings, ready-to-eat soups, canned vegetables and chips. It has been known to cause various side-effects like headaches, allergic reactions, nausea etc. Our favorite maggi also has this item.

10. Partially Hydrogenated Oils: Partially hydrogenated oils are full of trans-fats. We think it's partially hydrogenated but it actually means that the oil has been heated to stay longer and it's the worst form of cholesterol.

After reading this, hopefully the next time you see a drink which says naturally flavored, you will not presume that it's full of natural fruits? You could also see a product which screams 'low fat' but is filled with calories that are nutritionally completely worthless. The trick is to learn to read between the lines.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful dear!! Thanks for sharing these very informative blog. I do agree with u. I will start reading the labels foresure. :)

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