The words ‘organic’ and ‘sugar free’, ‘diet food’ and all the fads that sell comparatively less “tasty” foods might actually be misleading you. While, super markets racks are filled with a lot of labeled products that make them look different than their counterparts, understanding what constitutes your food, and what exactly do certain labels mean, can help you make an informed choice about food and can help ensure your health and keep your mind and heart healthy for the long life ahead of you!
These days, with so many companies getting their manufacturing go aheads from the government, the market is full of several choices. And, some of us really don’t pay attention to what the label means or what that food constitutes, if the packaging is stellar! Some of us even are guilty of purchasing a particular product because the commercial blew us away. Thankfully, with the rise of the internet, we are quick to reach Google for any teeny-tiny detail we want to look up. But, anything that’s on those racks in the supermarkets which has preservatives, is chemical based, or claims to be a certain way, needs to be thoroughly made sure of, before you gulp it down, or put it on your skin.
Let’s take you through some quick claims and what they actually mean, along with some labels like cold-pressed, organic, sugar-free, and what they mean.
By far the most misleading lables, that makes us grab that chocolate bar, or that fruit drink, and several similar food items. If you are thinking this is ‘diet food’, please don’t! Chocolate cannot just contain sugar, right? It also contains butter and cocoa which obviously contain fat. SO that chocolate bar which loudly says zero sugar, might contain saccharine or aspartame and therefore be zero sugar, but the other ingredients contain fat, eating which in large quantities will still make you fat! So, think about it before you buy guilt-free “chocolate”!
Carbohydrates on packets, mean Sugar. One teaspoon of sugar is equivalent to 4gms. And “no sugar added” does not mean that the product is calorie or carbohydrate free or even sugar free for that matter. The product could even have too much natural sugar, just like fruit juices do, and they can be equally damaging to your body!
One of the very popular brands made quite a buzz with its diet fizz drink, and everywhere we saw people claiming, since they were on a diet, the “Diet” fizzy drink is good to go. Well, these products are loaded with salt, aspartame and preservatives and harmful chemicals that cause bloating rather than weight loss. Therefore, when you are really dieting (and by that we mean in a mindful way, by consuming good amount of protein and cutting on junk), don’t pick fizzy drinks that say “Diet”. Also, how can any sort of processed drinks be zero calorie, think about it!
Always check how much trans fat is in a product, since Trans fats are bad for your heart. Ideally, it should be zero or very minute. Fats that are good for you are monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and omega-3. Fats that are not so good are saturated fats and trans fats. Look out for words like ‘hydrogenated oils’ on the ingredient list. These are trans fats too and should be avoided.
10-20 gm Sodium is enough for us per day, but most of your loved packaged salty foods contain more sodium than your body needs. Even foods that come canned, and don’t seem to have much salt, have more sodium.
The serving size you normally eat, and the serving size the food manufacturers mention on their labels can largely differ. The nutritional facts table they mention then needs to be doubled (if your serving size is larger) to know how much you’d consume, so make sure if you are watching what you eat.
Zero cholesterol doesn’t mean zero fat! Your masala laden chips will not have cholesterol IF they are cooked in olive oil or sunflower oil, since Cholesterol is a fat found in animals and humans, but not in plants. But the oils still have fats, so there’s nothing like guilt-free eating when it comes to processed foods. These foods also contain high amount if salt and other other added condiments which can be super unhealthy for your heart’s health.
Again, use the per serving point as a reference and check how much cholesterol you get from eating one serving of the food. HDL is ‘good’ cholesterol and LDL is ‘bad’ cholesterol. Also, like we said, don’t misinterpret zero cholesterol as zero fat.