Saturday, December 28, 2013

Reading Food Labels Carefully

So, let's continue the discussion about reading food labels.  I talked briefly about the salt and sugar content so I'd like to address fats, in particular trans fats, that may be in the food you're considering.  Trans fat is found in a variety of processed foods like vegetable oil or shortening, margarine, crackers, cookies and many snack foods.

What is trans fat? It's a chemical fat formed when manufacturers change a liquid oil into a solid fat. The manufacturer uses a process called hydrogenation to make this new chemical fat.  Manufacturers like to use trans fat because it helps them to reduce their costs of production.  They also use trans fat to increase the shelf life of the food product.

What are the health problems associated with trans fat?  Researchers have found that increased heart disease, diabetes and obesity have all been linked to regular consumption of trans fat.

What can you do to avoid it?  First, take your time when food shopping. Read the food label carefully and look for the words partially hydrogenated vegetable oil or shortening.  If it appears, look for another product that does not have this ingredient listed because it's a healthier choice for you and your loved ones.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Eating right and keeping healthy

Today we live exceedingly busy and demanding lives.  As a result of this hectic daily pace, many of us are interested in streamlining daily activities as much as possible.  One of those major daily activities is time spent in food preparation.  It's nice to be able to use prepared foods to keep food prep. time down.

When we are purchasing prepared foods, we need to look carefully at the label to be sure about the ingredients that are included.  These days, reading a food label may be just like reading a table of contents of a book.  It takes time to check each label out.  That is making food shopping more complicated than it used to be.  So, careful food shopping takes a little longer than it used to.

The first thing to keep in mind when reading a food label is to know that it is based on a daily adult diet of 2,000 calories. This is the average amount that an adult consumes.  So when a food label gives a percentage, it's telling you how much of that nutrient is provided based on the adult daily caloric intake of 2,000 calories.

The other thing that's important to read is the ingredients list.  They are listed in order of the amount of each ingredient that is in the food.  So, if the first ingredient is tomato, then there's lots of tomato in that food.  Be aware of salt and sugar ingredients that appear high on the ingredients list-----they are likely to be salty or sweet foods that are not particularly healthy.