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Reading Food Labels

Updated: Jan 13, 2023

When it comes to a packaged food their food label is important in determining its nutritive value. So, reading a basic list of components in any food product would help in selecting the right brand.

Many times, the product is chosen from the claims made on the front side rather than its back. Front covers are nothing but the marketing gimmicks to attract masses while actual contents are on the backside in much elaborated form which usually is overlooked.

Few important claims to look for in a food label,

– Calories (per serving)

– Type of carbohydrates (whether refined / whole)

– Fats (a type of fats like saturated / trans fats / hydrogenated fats)

– Proteins (amount per serving)

– Amount and type of sugar (in case of artificial sweeteners)

– Amount of salt (sodium, to be specific)

– Allergens (people being allergic to a specific type of proteins from milk/egg/peanut/wheat/rye)

Ingredients are mentioned in decreasing order of their quantity in the food product.

While consuming packed food see to it you are consuming close to the given amount of calories per serving measured by a cup or a spoon or a fist whichever is mentioned as per the label.

To know about carbohydrates, fiber-rich flour/grain (like wheat, jawar, bajra, nachni) are the most preferred ones. The one which is used in higher amount is printed first (eg, if refined and whole wheat flour both are used, the one which is used in excess is mentioned first then the lesser amount).

Proteins, the daily requirement is approx. 1gm/kg. Consumption through daily intake of packed food / legumes / lentils / eggs / chicken / fish / meat can suffice our need for the day.

Fats, such as hydrogenated, saturated or trans fats lead to the formation of free radicals causing chronic health issues over a period like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, higher lipid levels, or various types of cancers. Keeping the consumption of fat rich food to a minimum would benefit to a great extent.

Excess consumption of sugar as table sugar or artificial sweeteners like sucralose, saccharin claiming low-calorie food products do more harm than good.

Salt as sodium is added as a preservative in the excess amount to many low-calorie food, damaging vital organs slowly. (Daily requirement of salt is approx 1 teaspoon)

Making sure in case allergens are incorporated in the food product. Many people are allergic to certain proteins from milk, egg, peanuts, soybeans. Such allergies are a response by the immune system for fighting against invaders. Symptoms due to allergies can be mild to severe.

Naturally occurring food (organic food) will not have food labeling. Consuming packaged food to a minimum can surely keep health concerns at bay.

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