Food labels are pretty straight forward, right? Wrong.
As more and more health-conscious consumers get smart about reading labels
before making a purchase, companies with not-so-healthy ingredients are finding ways to save face.
You really need to know the what the rules are
and how food manufacturers get around them to make a product sound wholesome and good for you.
For example, we've been conditioned to think that just because something says it's "natural" that it's a good thing. But the term "natural" means nothing
on a food label anymore.
Anyone can say it about pretty much any kind of ingredient. For example, "natural flavors" can be code for MSG
. In fact, MSG is known by a host of aliases including:
- autolyzed yeast
- calcium caseinate
- glutamic acid
- hydrolyzed corn gluten
- hydrolyzed protein
- hydrolyzed soy protein
- monopotassium glutamate
- monosodium glutamate
- plant protein extract
- sodium caseinate
- textured protein
- yeast extract
- yeast food
Labels are loaded with wording like this. You have to take it with a grain of salt, so to speak.
A phrase such as “no added sugar” may mean nothing
if other ingredients (such as dried fruit, for example) are high in natural sugar in the first place.
Furthermore, “all natural” may rule out chemical additives, but the sum total of all the ingredients may result
in a fatty, cholesterol laden, high calorie, low nutrient, yet “all natural” empty food (like snack chips fried in GMO corn oil, for example).
ingredients on any packaged food should be common practice for anyone looking to improve their health. And the shorter the list, the better.
Long ingredient lists are the result of a snowball effect: one ingredient is not stable without the other, or may require some creative chemistry to meld with a host of other ingredients in order to give the product its desired taste or texture. The result is an arduous list of chemical additives.
Simple, wholesome foods have no need for ingredients tagged with words like "enriched"
(which, in reality, means non-absorbable vitamins and/or minerals
that have been added to a depleted, dead food), nor do they need to mislead by using chemical names or code words instead of being honest.
Here's the bottom line... if you don't recognize an ingredient on a food package, don't buy it.
It's the best way to stay "all natural."
Which ingredient is an automatic "no" for you?
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