Advice On Choosing Health Food And Healthy Foods And Reading Nutrition Labels
Health food does not require a definition, does it? We all know what health food is – it’s yogurt and granola, whole-grain cereal and organically grown vegetables and fruit. It is 100% natural, no preservatives or dyes, unadulterated, pure. When you put all that together, you should have healthy food, however all too often, what’s marketed as health food nowadays hardly classifies as food, not to mention health food.
Real yogurt has 2 ingredients: milk (whole, skim or low fat) and live yogurt cultures.
Have a look at one of our favorite health food choices – yogurt. It struck supermarket shelves in the early seventies, although it had been available before that in health food stores and restaurants. Real yogurt has 2 ingredients: milk (whole, skim or low fat) and live yogurt cultures. That’s health food – calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, protein. Next time you are at the supermarket, take a glance at the dairy case. You will find row after row of hyper-sweetened brightly coloured rainbow swirled and candy-sprinkled yogurt packaged in ways that attract our littlest consumers – children. Thousands and thousands of parents purchase the enticing packages, secure that because it’s yogurt, they are purchasing food that’s healthy for their kids.
What’s marketed as health food nowadays hardly classifies as food, not to mention health food.
One look at the label, though, and it is clear that these kiddy yogurts (as well as most of the yogurt that is marketed to adults) are a far cry from heath food. Some of the most well-liked yogurts for children contain anywhere from 3 to 10 added teaspoons of sugar. Thinking about how many teaspoons of yogurt are in a single serving, you may too hand your child the sugar bowl. In addition, most yogurts include “natural” ingredients which have little to do with health food. Ingredients like pectin (to thicken yogurt), carrageenan (a seafood extract that gives some yogurts their body) and annatto (for colour) add little nutritionally to yogurt. They are in the mix to serve one main purpose: to help yogurt survive its trip from the factory to your table.
You’ll find the same situation with other food that initially made their debut as health food in the 70s. Granola has turned out to be granola bars with chocolate chips and gooey caramel. Whole wheat flour is bleached and denuded of its flavorful kernels. Sunflower seeds are roasted in oil and salted. Even brown rice is available in the instant variety.
Healthy food not health food
The secret to feeding your family (and yourself) a healthful diet of healthy food is to read the labels. The United States Food & Drug Administration has laid out strict guidelines for nutritional labeling of all food products. The nutrition label will tell you all you need to know to select real health food. Certain things to keep in mind when reading nutrition labels for health food:
* In the ingredient’s portion of the nutrition label, ingredients are listed in order by amount. The ingredient that’s listed first is the primary ingredient, followed by the next largest amount, etc. * The nutrition facts label should list each of the required nutrients even when the food provides 0% of the recommended daily value. * The nutrition facts label should list what part of the food’s calories is made from fat, from sugar, from protein and from carbohydrates. It will also break down the fat into saturated and unsaturated fat.
Reading labels on everything you feed your family is the simplest way to make sure whether a food is really a health food – or simply disguised as one.
Do you read product ingredient labels? Let me know in the comments section.
Related Health Food Articles