Are Food Labels Making Us Unhealthy? How to Read Food Labels Correctly
Heres a look at how to read food labels correctly. The boxes say “low fat” and the cans say sugar-free, but how true are these statements? When buying food stuff, we tend to go for the ‘healthier’ options. The question is, how healthy are these items really?
Do you ever look at the ingredients list and question what half of those long words are exactly? Whether you’re watching your weight, trying to eat better or avoiding allergies, reading food labels is an absolute must!
What do I need to know about reading a food label?
Simply reading the label is not enough to make informed decisions about what food you are putting in your body. It’s vital to understand what this information means.
1. Serving Size and Calories
Many people think that the serving size is the amount they should be eating. This is simply a guideline of how much the average eater will consume and not an indication of what you have to eat. This information if generally provided to help you work out the calories in your serving. It’s there to help with portion control and ensure that you’re consuming a healthy number of calories based on your eating plan.
We have been taught to believe that fat is bad for us when in reality our bodies need a certain amount of healthy fats to function correctly. It’s important to remember that fats are high in calories and healthy fat intake should be limited. Avoid trans fats where possible as these are the ‘bad fats’. Saturated fats are not too harmful to our bodies, but monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the best form of fat to consume.
We often read ‘No Added Sugar’ and think this is a good thing. But in reality, other sweeteners have been used in place of sugar. Look out for ingredients like aspartame, sucrose, fructose, glucose and anything with syrup in the name. These are all hidden sugars in the food we eat and provide us with empty calories that aren’t healthy for our bodies.
Some carbohydrates turn to sugar after digestion, so reading the food label correctly can help you limit these sugars in your diet too. The value of fibre in carbohydrate products is the important one. Choose the product with the higher fibre value for a better chance at sticking to your diet. If you are counting your carbohydrate intake, subtract the total fibre from the total carbohydrate value to calculate your net carbohydrate intake.
Identifying Fake News on Saturated Fat
Research into the types of fats we consume in food stuff has been extensively researched over many years. The general consensus based on the results of these research studies is that saturated fats and trans fats are damaging to our health. While the unsaturated fats, such as monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fatty acids, are the good fats we should be including in our diets.
Fake news about saturated fats?
Lately, there has been a lot of fake news circulating about saturated fats. Headlines have been assaulting us with news of saturated fats actually being good for us. However, We know that this is not true.
Bergen University is on the fake news bandwagon, promoting a new study into this field, said to be published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. There is, however, a complete disconnect between the study and the academic public relations department. The study does not mention anything about the health effects that saturated fats have on the human body.
The authors of this research paper purposely did not make any claims about saturated fats. Rather, the research was designed to test what the effects would be of swapping calories between fats and carbohydrates. The study set out to investigate if consuming energy in the form of carbohydrates or as fat for three months. The findings showed that this did not influence metabolic syndrome and visceral fat within a low-glycaemia and low-processed diet. The data collected did not support the idea that dietary fat had an effect on promoting ectopic adiposity and cardio-metabolic syndrome.
The PR department at the university did not take the limitations of the study into account when releasing the report. This was then followed by sloppy reporting by health journalists who further twisted the information.
What are the facts?
Dietary guidance has condemned fat in our diets influencing people to eat more sugars and refined carbohydrates. More recent studies are showing what a bad move this was and that fewer fats are not necessarily a healthier diet. However, saturated fats are at all good for our health. Controlled studies have shown that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats has a benefit for reducing heart disease.
What diet should we follow?
Numerous clinical studies have shown that diets similar to the Mediterranean diet have the best health results. Include foods that a rich in healthy unsaturated fats and avoid all trans fats.
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