Read the Label – 3 Tips for Healthier Shopping and Eating

Many people are looking for healthier ways to eat. Weight loss can be a major factor causing an awareness of what we eat.

It is very important to read the labels of any product you are thinking of putting in your shopping cart to take home to consume yourself or to offer to your family or friends. There are several things to watch out for but at this time I am writing about the 3 most common offenders of good health that can be found in many products.

First, let’s talk about sugar. The average American eats 5 lbs. of sugar a WEEK. I know if you are reading this you are saying to yourself “I do not eat 5 lbs. of sugar a week!” You might not, however you might not know how much sugar is hiding in foods you commonly eat everyday. When you are looking at a label it will most likely have the sugar in grams. Since we don’t commonly use grams for measurement it is important to know that 1 teaspoon equals 4 grams. Also note that items are listed in the order of quantity. When sugar is listed in the top of the ingredients you know that there is a lot of sugar in the product. Sugar can be called by several names. Corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, fructose, sucrose and dextrose are just a few of the names for sugar.

We all know that Type II diabetes is on the rise in adults and children. In fact, it is so common in children now that they had to change the name from Adult Onset Diabetes to Type II Diabetes. It is imperative to read labels to know how much sugar we are consuming. 20 tsp. of sugar can immobilize your immune system for up to 6 hours. A coke and a candy bar can put you at that level.

The second thing we want to look for is monosodium glutamate (MSG). MSG has many other names such as Hydrolyzed Protein, Yeast Extract, Hydrolyzed Oat Flour and many, many others. Check your labels. Most chicken stocks, beef stocks, bullion cubes crackers, and most prepackaged foods have MSG in one of the forms named above. MSG has been linked to certain neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s chorea. The Mayo Clinic has linked MSG to headaches, sweating, numbness, tingling or burning in or around the mouth, rapid, fluttering heartbeats, chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea and weakness. Obviously MSG is something we want to avoid.

The third item I want to mention is trans fats. Trans fats have been on the news a lot and many products have eliminated them or reduced the amount of trans fats in their products. This is a good move but it can be misleading. The Food and Drug Administration has set 2.5 grams of trans fat per day per adult as a safe amount. I don’t think any amount is safe but let’s take a look at what can happen. If a product has less than.5g of trans fats in it the label can read “no trans fats.” That is quite misleading! With only 2.5g being the safe, allowable amount per day it is easy to exceed that limit when you think you are not getting any. Always check the label even if it says “no trans fats.” If the label says hydrogenated fats, or partially hydrogenated fats you know that there is trans fat in the product. Trans fats are the culprits that raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and reduce the HDL (good) cholesterol. They also contribute to insulin resistance and Type II Diabetes.