Why it is important to understand and read food labels?

Reading food labels can be a science in itself. That's because there are a lot of little-known or completely unknown names. In addition, consumers are more aware than ever of the importance of a healthy diet.

How to read food labels and not be tempted

Why it is important to understand and read food labels?
Why it is important to understand and read food labels?

So some food manufacturers use all kinds of tricks to convince people to buy highly processed and unhealthy products. Here are some things to look out for when reading food labels:


  • Why is it important to understand and read food labels?
  • How not to mislead food labels
  • Read the full list of ingredients on food labels
  • What to look for when reading the number of calories on food labels
  • Top of the most misleading statements on food labels
  • Under what names can sugar be found on food labels?

Why is it important to understand and read food labels?

You probably know that what is written on the labels of the food we buy is important for our health. In fact, when the Nutrition Facts label was first established in 1990, it was designed as a tool to inform consumers about the ingredients and nutrients that foods contain.

In addition, nutrition labels are especially helpful for those living with health conditions that require dietary changes. Many people are given very specific parameters about the amounts of certain nutrients they can consume

People with kidney disease who need to monitor their sodium, for example, or people with diabetes who count their carbohydrates, can see on the labels whether a certain food can fit into their diet.

How not to mislead food labels

One of the best pieces of advice might be to completely ignore the front-of-pack claims. Front labels try to entice you to buy products by making claims about certain benefits and features, which are often just a marketing tool.

In fact, studies show that adding health benefits to front labels leads people to believe that a product is healthier than the same product that does not list these benefits—thus influencing consumer choices.

The way manufacturers employ these labels is frequently deceptive. They tend to use misleading, and in some cases, outright false claims about benefits and ingredients.

Examples of this include many high sugars breakfast cereals, which are said to have honey in them and have many benefits. These goods are not healthy, despite what the label may suggest.

Promoting the product with front-of-package claims makes it difficult for consumers to make healthy choices without thoroughly checking the ingredient list.

Read the full list of ingredients on food labels

The ingredients in the products are listed by quantity - from the highest to the lowest amount. This means that the first ingredient is the one that the manufacturer used the most.

A rule of thumb is to look at the first three ingredients, as they make up the bulk of what you eat.

If the first ingredients include refined grains, some type of sugar or hydrogenated oils, it can be assumed that the product is unhealthy.

Instead, try to choose items with whole foods listed as the first three ingredients.

Furthermore, an ingredient list that exceeds two to three lines indicates that the product is highly processed and therefore unhealthy.

What to look for when reading the number of calories on food labels

Nutrition labels indicate how many calories and nutrients are in a standard amount of a product - usually one serving. However, said portions are often much smaller than what people consume in a single serving.

For example, a serving can be half a juice box, a quarter of a cake, half a bar of chocolate or a single biscuit. In doing so, the manufacturers try to trick consumers into thinking that the food has fewer calories and less sugar.

That's why you should look at the number of calories and the value of compounds and other nutrients per 100 grams.

Top of the most misleading statements on food labels

The claims and claims on packaged food labels are designed to get your attention and convince you that the product is healthy.

Here are some of the most common statements - and what they mean:

  • Light - Light products are processed to reduce calories or fat. Some products are simply diluted. Check carefully if they added something instead - like sugar.
  • Multinuclear It sounds very healthy, but it just means that a product contains several types of grains. Apparently, it is refined grains - unless the product is marked as whole grain.
  • Natural. This does not necessarily mean that the product is truly natural. It merely means that the maker had at some point used a natural source, like apples or rice.
  • Organic. This label means very little if a real product is coughed up, for example, organic sugar is still sugar.
  • Sugar free. Some products are naturally high in sugar. Just because they don't have added sugar doesn't mean they're sweet and healthy. In addition, unhealthy sugar substitutes may have been added.
  • Low calorie. The original product of the brand must have a third less calories than low-calorie products. However, one brand's reduced-calorie version may contain similar calories to another brand's original.
  • Low fat. This label usually means that the fat has been reduced at the cost of adding extra sugars. Read the ingredient list and exercise extreme caution.
  • Low in carbohydrates. Low-carb diets have recently been associated with better health. However, processed foods labeled low carb are generally processed foods similar to low-fat processed foods.
  • With whole grains. There may not be much whole grain in the product. Check the list of components; if whole grains are not among the first three, the amount is insignificant.
  • Fortified or fortified with certain vitamins. This indicates that the product has received some dietary supplements. For instance, milk frequently contains vitamin D. However, something is not necessarily healthy just because it has been strengthened.
  • Gluten free. Gluten free does not necessarily mean healthy. The product simply does not contain wheat, buckwheat, rye or barley. Numerous gluten-free meals are heavily processed and laden with sugar and harmful fats.
  • Fruit flavor. The name of many manufactured items, such strawberry yoghurt, alludes to a natural flavours. The only substances present in the product can be those used for fruit flavours.
  • Zero trans fats. This phrase means "less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving". Therefore, if the servings are deceptively small, the product may still contain trans fats.

Under what names can sugar be found on food labels?

Numerous names for sugar exist, many of which you might not be familiar with.

Food manufacturers take advantage of this by adding many different types of sugar to their products to hide the actual amount.

By doing this, they can put a healthier ingredient at the top, listing the sugar at the bottom. So even though a product may be high in sugar, it doesn't necessarily appear as one of the first three ingredients.

To avoid excessive sugar consumption, Beware of the following sugar names in the ingredient lists:

  • Types of sugar: beet sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, castor sugar, coconut sugar, date sugar, golden sugar, invert sugar, muscovado sugar, organic raw sugar, Rasp Edora sugar, evaporated cane juice.
  • Types of syrup: carob syrup, high fructose corn syrup, honey, agave nectar, malt syrup, maple syrup, oat syrup, rice bran syrup and rice syrup.
  • Additional sugars: barley malt, molasses, cane juice crystals, lactose, corn sweetener, crystalline fructose, dextran, malt powder, ethyl maltol, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, galactose, glucose, disaccharides, maltodextrin and maltose.

These are the most popular names for sugar, though there are many others.

If you see one of these at the top of the ingredients list, or multiple types throughout the list, then the product contains high added sugar.

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