Food labels can be confusing to many consumers. With so much information on them, it’s hard to quickly decipher what is healthy and what’s not, and some can also be rather deceptive. To help clear up some of that confusion, here is a look at some of the most useless information on food labels that are best disregarded.
Calories from Fat
The “calories from fat” section of the label provides no useful information to consumers as to whether or not a food is healthy. This seems to be a holdover from a time when everyone thought the less fat that was consumed, the better. Consider that 8 ounces of unsweetened coconut milk contains 80 calories and 5 grams of fat, which means over half of those calories are derived from fat.
On the other hand, a box of Hot Tamales candy contains 140 calories and zero fat. Which item is healthier? If you only considered which item contained a higher amount of fat, you’d be fooled into making an unhealthy food choice. Coconut oil is high in healthy saturated fat that comes in the form of lauric acid which is known to fight bacteria as well as stabilize cholesterol levels.
Calories from fat cannot tell you whether or not an item is healthy.
Any amount of trans fat can be harmful; if you see any number listed under trans fat on the label, you should return it to the store shelf, so in some ways this information can be helpful. The problem is that this number can also be deceiving. If a food contains .5 grams or less of trans fat, it can legally be listed as zero grams.
Some food packages even have a bright sticker on the front that reads “trans fat” free, when in reality, it’s just not true. You have to delve further into the label to search for ingredients like partially hydrogenated oil or hydrogenated oil to determine if there is actually trans fat. Many processed foods contain trans fat; consuming small amounts can add up very quickly and the damage caused is cumulative.
“All natural” is a marketing ploy used on the front of many pretty food packages, designed to deceive consumers into thinking they’re making a healthy choice. Some products that contain high fructose corn syrup claim to be “all natural,” such as a number of “fruit drinks,” like “Minute Maid’s Premium All Natural Flavors Berry Punch.”
Although glucose and fructose occur in nature, high fructose corn syrup is anything but natural as it is highly processed, creating an entirely different chemical substance than what was derived from nature.
The most important thing to look for on a food label
Your best bet in making a healthy food choice is to look at the ingredients rather than the nutritional statement. By choosing fresh, whole organic food from the earth like an apple or a carrot, you’re ensured of no deceptive ingredients and confusing nutrition information.
You can find some good choices in a jar or a can, such as coconut milk which should contain just coconut milk and water, or plain organic peanut butter such as Arrowhead Mills Crunchy Organic Peanut Butter which contains just one ingredient: organic dry roasted peanuts.
Labels can be confusing, but staying informed will help you make the best food choices for you and your family.
-The Alternative Daily