Vol 1 Issue 2 Why You Should Read Food Labels

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Add years to your life by avoiding these three ingredients:

Today’s issue will cover food labels and ingredients that are in our common go-to meal preparation arsenal.  We will take a look at just a few items that may be on your shelf or in your refrigerator-freezer.

Does this scenario sound familiar?

You have had a long day at work, made it through traffic, now you’re home trying to decide, “What’s for supper?”  You may be thinking that you just want to avoid a big production or don’t feel like calling something in, so you look to see what is in the fridge and freezer.  Nothing but a few marginal vegetables and a frozen pizza. But wait, can you make this into a healthy meal for you and your family?

If you add a little cheese, some more sauce and a few of the vegetables in the refrigerator, this will feed everyone at home for next to nothing.

However, this whole “healthy” ambition may be misguided. Stop and take a look at what you are preparing, the frozen pizza has ….


10g of Fat, 650mg of Salt, and 4g of Sugar.

The sauce has ……..

3g of Fat, 430mg of Salt, and 9g of Sugar

The extra cheese has …….


9g of Fat, and 200mg of Salt

The vegetables are the only ingredient that can be added without contributing a large amount of fat, salt, or sugar.

There is nothing wrong with adding to a meal like this if it is done only once and a while. However, consistently super-sizing a pizza or any other go-to meal can start causing weight gain, water retention from extra salt, additional empty calories from extra sugar, and over-eating because high amounts of fat have tricked your body into thinking you are not full.

Try making small changes to this frozen pizza, although you should not keep a steady diet of pizza. If you feel the need to add to it, try and watch out for the three most used ingredients in our processed foods and avoid them as much as possible.

They are: salt, fat, and sugar.

These 3 ingredients come in many forms in the processed foods found in our own kitchens. When you read the labels you will find that some of the ingredients are pretty hard to pronounce.

In regards to our pizza example, the easiest thing to do is limit or not even use these products. Replace the sauce with fresh cut tomatoes and herbs, and you will eliminate sugar, salt, and fat. Eliminate the extra cheese and you will reduce salt and fat.

The whole point of this example is to show that in one simple and fast meal preparation, your food can be loaded with salt, sugar, and fat.  If you are desperate for a pizza, you will find that some of the best pizzas are made from scratch.

If we start really looking at the labels that are on the items that we buy for food preparation, they will at least start to guide us to healthier eating habits that will help us reduce our weight, blood pressure, and other ailments.

The FDA is working on new nutrition labels and serving sizes.  These will be some of the first changes in food labeling since the 2006 requirement that trans fat be shown on the label..

http://www.fda.gov/

As you can see in these images, the serving size, calories, % daily value, and added sugars are emphasized and displayed for more nutritional awareness.

For example, until labels are changed to display added sugars, you will have to determine for yourself what the added sugars are and in what quantity.

Just take a look at a breakfast cereal label if you want a real eye opener into the “sugar load” in a box.

One easy way to spot added sugar is the suffix in the name having  -ose: sucrose, dextrose, etc.  This trick will not include all the sugars, you will have to look even closer at the label in order to find other added sugars like dextrin, syrup, maltose, etc.

The reason to watch the sugar load of a product is due to all the empty calories that sugar provides.  These empty calories place a strain on the body and lead to health problems.

Sugar, Fat, and Salt are the three things that make processed foods taste good, but are often used in too high of quantities to contribute to a healthy lifestyle.

To truly take control of what goes in your body, you have to be part of the food production.

  • This starts at the store where you shop, by reading the labels and knowing what products have reasonable quantities of these three ingredients.
  • Cook as much of the food you eat as you can. By doing this you have gained another level of control.
  • Replace as many of the processed foods with fresh, healthy foods as you can. This can be from the local farmers market or your own garden.

Here are some tips for making the most of the information on the Nutrition Facts label:

http://www.heart.org/

1 – Start with the serving information at the top of the label.

This will tell you the size of a single serving and the total number of servings per container (package).

2 – Next, check total calories per serving.

Pay attention to the calories per serving and how many servings you’re really consuming if you eat the whole package. If you double the servings you eat, you double the calories and nutrients.

The next section of information on a nutrition label is about the amounts of specific nutrients in the product.

3 – Limit these nutrients.

AHA recommends limiting these nutrients: Based on a 2,000 calorie diet, no more than 11-13 grams of saturated fat, as little trans fat as possible, and no more than 1,500 mg of sodium.

4 – Get enough of these nutrients.

Make sure you get enough of beneficial nutrients such as: dietary fiber, protein, calcium, iron, vitamins and other nutrients you need every day.

5 – Quick guide to % Daily Value.

The % Daily Value (DV) tells you the percentage of each nutrient in a single serving, in terms of the daily recommended amount. As a guide, if you want to consume less of a nutrient (such as saturated fat or sodium), choose foods with a lower % DV — 5 percent or less. If you want to consume more of a nutrient (such as fiber), seek foods with a higher % DV — 20 percent or more.

Here are more tips for getting as much health information as possible from the Nutrition Facts label:

  • Remember that the information shown in these panels is based on 2,000 calories a day. You may need to consume less or more than 2,000 calories depending upon your age, gender, activity level, and whether you’re trying to lose, gain or maintain your weight. Find out your personal daily limits on My Fats Translator.
  • When the Nutrition Facts label says a food contains “0 g” of trans fat, but includes “partially hydrogenated oil” in the ingredient list, it means the food contains trans fat, but less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. So, if you eat more than one serving, you could quickly reach your daily limit of trans fat.

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Brought to you by http://www.heart.org/
http://www.fda.gov/

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By taking these small steps, you have started on the path of a new lifestyle that will result in a happier, and healthier life.

Check the Urban Farm Lifestyle App for tools for shopping, recipes, and tips for a healthier lifestyle.

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