Understanding Food Labels

Understanding how to read a food label will help keep you abreast of wise food selections for yourself and your family.  For  consumers, it breaks down to an applicable knowledge on product packaging.  Digging deeper and looking at the nitty gritty of ingredients going into our bodies.  Mainly, the amount of fat, sugar, sodium and artificial flavorings that are hidden in products you buy.

For example, did you know that the label on a Kid Cuisine Fried Chicken Dinner says it is “88% fat free” but the actual fat amount is close to 50% of the fat a child should eat for the entire day?  Some labels list the percentage of fat in the product by weight rather than calories of fat per serving.  To find the calories of fat per serving, simply multiply the total grams of fat by 9.  Look at the total number of calories per serving compared to the total number of calories from fat.  If it is over 30%, buyer beware!

Real Fruit Additions.  Did you ever notice that the package on Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Bars say “made with real fruit” but the actual amount of fruit per bar is only 1/50 of an apple?  Any inclusion of fruit, no matter how much or how little, allows the manufacture to say it is “made with real fruit.”  I would rather buy something without fruit and add my own later.

Wheat and Whole Wheat.  Did you know that the words “wheat” or “whole wheat” on a label don’t guarantee the flour is whole grain?  Nabisco Whole Wheat Premium Plus Saltines, Nabisco Wheatsworth, Pepperidge Farm Hearty Wheat and similar “whole wheat” crackers all have more white flour than wheat flour.

Oat Bran.  Did you know that you would have to eat almost 28 bowls (over 3,000 calories) of Post Honey Bunches of Oats cereal to get as much oat bran as you would in one bowl of hot, oat bran cereal?  The packaged name of a product does not necessarily justify the ingredients that are in the product.  Real oats are much healthier and less expensive than some of the top-brand, packaged cereals.

Beef Franks and Fat-Free Hot Dogs.  Did you know that a standard beef frank labeled 73% fat free has over 12 grams of fat and 130 calories per serving?  As a consumer, you might notice the label and automatically think “this beef frank must be ok – it’s low in fat”, right?  Once again, remember to look at the number of fat grams per serving.  In this case, 12 grams.  12 x 9 calories/gram = 108 fat calories in one beef frank with 130 calories.  The hot dog is really 83% fat.

If you would like additional help in understanding the new food labels, please call or email our office.  We’ll take you on a tour of the shopping isles and teach you what to put in and leave out of your cart!

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