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Deciphering food labels

Food labels are intended to help you eat healthier but this premise only works if you know what to look for and what to avoid and then make the appropriate choice. Unfortunately many of us focus purely on the nutrition table (which is often inaccurate) and base our choices on which products have fewer calories and fat. As a result we often neglect to see the real dangers lurking in our foods and continue to make poor choices.

So next time you reach for a product on the supermarket shelf or your pantry or refrigerator check the ingredients list rather than just looking at the nutrition table and look out for the following:

  • Sugar, glucose, fructose, dextrose
  • high fructose corn syrup or corn syrup
  • hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fat
  • artificial sweeteners such as aspartame
  • artificial colours (in particular 102, 104, 110, 122, 123, 124, 127, 129, 133, 150)
  • preservatives (in particular E211, E220, E828)
  • Nitrate & Nitrite preservatives (E249-252)
  • Artificial flavours (E620-635)
  • MSG (E621) – flavour enhancer
  • Hydrolysed vegetable protein (hidden source of MSG)
  • Yeast extract (yes, this includes Vegemite!) – also a hidden source of MSG
  • 320 BHA (Buylated Hydroxyanisole) – a synthetic antioxidant
  • soy protein or soy protein isolate

A note on artificial colours: did you know that Australia’s favourite biscuit the Tim Tam contains not only 1 but 5 of the above mentioned artificial colours! These colours have been banned in many other countries due to the health effects they have been associated with (hence the fact that they are so exclusive to Australia). So when it comes to biscuits to avoid (particularly for your children) Tim Tams top the list!

 


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