A recent government survey found that over 60 percent of shoppers use the nutrition facts panel on packaged foods. But using that information correctly is the real key to making the healthiest choices—and that can be a little tricky. One of my favorite things to do with my personal clients is take a trip to the grocery store together. Here are five common mistakes I tend to see when strolling the aisles, and the most important info to look for on any food package:
- Ignoring the serving size
All of the nutrition fact’s numbers are based on a single serving, but many packages that seem like one reasonable portion may actually contain two or more.
- Confusing the terms “reduced” and “low”
These two words don’t mean the same thing. A food that says reduced simply means it contains at least 25 percent less of something. For example, a reduced sodium soy sauce may contain 25 percent less sodium than the original version, but that doesn’t mean it’s low in sodium. In fact one tablespoon packs about 700 milligrams of sodium, a big chunk of the 1,500 to 2,300 milligram cap we should be aiming for per day. And sometimes reduced isn’t a good thing.
- Trusting the words zero and free
Labeling laws allow foods with less than 0.5 grams of trans fat to be labeled trans fat free or say zero grams, but if a food contains 0.4 grams and you eat 10 servings of it over the week, you actually consumed 4 grams of trans fat, not zero. The only surefire way to tell if a food contains trans fat is to read the ingredient list.
- Misunderstanding percentages
It’s easy to get confused here, for example, two percent on milk. Many people think that means the milk is 98 percent fat free, but it actually means that two percent of the weight of the milk is fat. Whole milk is generally four percent fat by weight, so while two percent is reduced, it’s not low. In fact about 30 percent of the calories in a cup of two percent milk come from fat, and it’s same for two percent yogurt.
- Not reading the ingredient list
The most important info on a label is the ingredient list but only about half of shoppers read it. It should be the very first thing you look at, because the only way to truly judge the quality of a food is to find out what it’s made of.
Blog Article Entry by: Ria Kathrine G. Parayno, UST-SN