Properly evaluate the label of a food can be a tremendous challenge, but there are simple ways to do it.
Life was much simpler and healthier if the bean cans were just beans, if the packets of cookies were just the result of a mixture of flour, sugar and eggs, if the baked and frozen burgers were made with only meat. But not.
With the exception of foods sold in their natural state – such as fruits and vegetables – all others are the result of mixtures and additions, many of them with components that harm health. Analyzing the label of all foods is the most effective way to achieve the most natural and healthy diet possible, however, this is still a reality far from being achieved, since more than half of what we eat every day is not ‘Real’ food, but rather processed.
Besides being important to take into account some names and codes, it is necessary to be aware that some labels disguise the presence of less health friendly ingredients, many of them associated with sugar and fats. And this is why nutritionists pay special attention to four different aspects when analyzing a label.
The Prevention magazine website says that sugar is one of the most common concerns and one of the ingredients that appears most disguised in the most varied names and codes. This ‘sweet poison’ is a real health attack and its presence in processed foods is increasing.
But how can we detect sugar in a food whose packaging says, for example, ‘no added sugars’? It is simple, just look for names like corn syrup, inverted sugar, fructose, fructose syrup, etc. These ingredients not only increase the sweetness of the food, but also stimulate its greater validity and promote a pleasant texture.
A food with trans fats is always to be avoided since consumption of this type of fat is associated with serious health problems and can even be fatal. The fats – present in almost all processed foods that are ingested daily – are known to dangerously alter cholesterol levels, leaving the person more prone to cardiovascular problems and even type 2 diabetes. Percentage of trans fats should always be less than zero.
Still in the range of fats, saturated fats are another health poison. A label indicating ‘Fats, two which are saturated’ indicates that food is a health hazard because these fats are the most easily lodged in the body and around the organs.
Last but not least, there is sodium. As we told you this week, a lot of the food eaten in the day-to-day has hidden sodium and considerably increases the levels of salt consumed daily, which leaves health at the mercy of a number of diseases and health problems.
Searching for foods with lower salt levels per 100 grams is half way to avoiding bigger evils, however, it is always important to note that rarely does a person only consume the recommended dose on the package (just think of Breakfast: 30 grams equals three or four tablespoons, which is much less than people tend to consume at every meal they make of cereal).
If all these names confuse you, take a simpler exercise: look at the validity of the food. When larger (and we speak in months or years), the more likely it is to contain sweeteners, preservatives and dyes that allow it to last longer without spoiling.
Enjoy and learn how to properly decipher processed foods, after all, not all are bad and discover the differences between processed food and true food.