In The Know: 5 Tips On Ingredients Lists
Doing your best to make healthy choices but confused by the mumbo-jumbo on the back of your favorite snacks? Nutrition labels can be really confusing, so we pulled together our top five tips to decoding the details. Check these out before you get to the checkout and you’ll be in the know on that nutrition label. Here is in shape guide to the nutrition label know how.
1. Serving size, serving size, serving size!!!
Make the serving size your first stop on the nutrition label. The serving size is the key to reading the rest of the nutrition label. It will tell you the size of a single serving and the number of servings in the container. So, if the package lists 1 cup as the serving size and there are 2 servings in the package, you know the nutrition information (fat, calories, protein, carbs) listed on the label is for 1 cup of the item rather than for the entire package. If you plan to eat the entire package, you then know to double all of the values listed. If you plan to eat only half of the serving size, you then know to divide the values listed in half.
2. Read the full ingredients list.
Make sure you read the full ingredients list – it’s the best way to know exactly what you’re eating. And remember ingredients are listed by weight in descending order, so the ingredient that weighs the most will be first, and the ingredient that weighs the least will be listed last. So, if sugar is the first ingredient listed on the label that food is predominantly made of sugar.
3. Sugar comes in all shapes and sizes (and names too).
Sugar on a nutrition label is disguised by about 60 different names in the ingredients list of a nutrition label. If you see things like sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, nectar, dextrose, corn sweetener, or evaporated cane juice, those are just fancy terms for sugar. Some sugar occurs naturally in foods like fructose in fruit or lactose in milk and those will be listed in the ingredients list as well.
4. Choose 100% whole grains.
When you’re looking for a nice healthy bread to take home from the bakery aisle, look for 100 percent whole grain rather than made with whole grains. This seems like the same thing, huh? But it’s not! If the label says made with whole grains it could mean that the product has just a little bit of whole grain. Because there are often a lot of different things added to bread, the best way to avoid things like white or refined flour creeping into your bread, is to look for the 100% whole grain on the label.
5. Take low-fat, low-calorie, or sugar-free labels with a grain of salt.
While low-calorie, reduced-fat and sugar-free products can help you reach your health goals, make sure you study the rest of the label before eating them as they can also be deceiving. Reduced-fat items can have added salt or sugar because when the manufactures take the fat out, it also takes out some of the flavor. To counteract this, they’ll add in extra things to keep it tasty. So, by all means dig into that reduced-fat or low-calorie decadence but remember to read the rest of the label for those sneaky added ingredients so you can make an informed decision.