Getting Clued up on Food Labels

18 October 2019

There is so much variety available in grocery stores and pharmacies that you may be faced with when shopping and it can be confusing choosing what to buy and what the best choice is.

Food labels are a valuable tool to guide us in making the best choice, but not if you don’t understand what they mean. When comparing foods, always look at the nutritional info per 100 g, all food products are required to show the content per 100 g which makes it easier to compare apple with apples. The serving size is also important to look at as this is the recommended amount that you should have in one sitting, although it can sometimes be easy to overshoot the suggested serving size!

Health claims like “low in fat” and “fat free” displayed on packaged foods may lead you to believe that these products are the best choice for weight loss, however these products are often loaded with fillers like sugar and carbs to improve taste and texture.

The ingredient list displays quantities of ingredients from the highest to the lowest amount. The closer “sugar” is to the top of the ingredient list, the higher the sugar content. Sugar is sometimes listed using other words: cane sugar, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, high-fructose corn syrup, syrup, honey, galactose, lactose, maltose, maltodextrin, rice syrup, corn sweetener and xylitol.

The consumption of excess salt can negatively affect your health as well as result in water retention and bloating. Look out for other names for high salt ingredients: Baking powder, celery salt, garlic salt, meat/yeast extract, monosodium glutamate, (MSG), onion salt, rock salt, sea salt, sodium, sodium ascorbate, sodium bicarbonate, sodium nitrate/nitrite, stock cubes, vegetable salt.

Avoid food products that have a very long ingredient list of unfamiliar, processed ingredients. Try to choose products with fresh ingredients and minimal additives and preservatives.

Food labels are designed to help you and guide you. Use them to your advantage when shopping for groceries or selecting meals or snacks.