15 Jun What You Should REALLY be Looking for on your Food Labels
Food labels are an important way for us to understand what we’re putting into our bodies. And while it seems like a lot of people are obsessed with the calories, carbohydrates, or fat on a nutrition label, we should actually be focusing more on the ingredients.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ensures that every food product has an ingredient list on their packaging with a food label. But did you know that the ingredients are listed in a specific order? The ingredients listed first have the most dominant percentages in the food, while the ingredients listed at the end contain the least amount of presence. (For instance, if you look at a foot label on a jar of salsa, you will most likely see “tomatoes” listed at the beginning of the ingredients).
The FDA has a database with over 3,000 ingredients that are used to make foods. Many of these ingredients are common ones we have in our kitchen cupboards–salt, baking powder, cinnamon, etc. However, some ingredients go by names other than what we might expect. It’s important to do your research and understand what certain ingredients are.
For instance, “sugar” can be listed under several different names such as “high fructose corn syrup,” “corn syrup,” “agave nectar,” or “dehydrated cane juice,” etc. Salt can also be masked under sodium benzoate, disodium or monosodium glutamate (MSG). And when it comes to trans fats, you’re not exactly going to read “trans fats” on any ingredient list. Instead, it will list ingredients that contain trans fats like partially hydrogenated oil and hydrogenated oil.
Some medical experts suggest that a good rule of thumb to live by is to stick with foods that contain five ingredients or less. Others suggest that if you can’t pronounce the ingredients, it’s best to avoid them.
Be Your Own Judge
It really all boils down to you, your health, and what you want out of it. Understanding ingredients, and what’s in them, can help you take proper care of both yourself, and your family.
It’s also important to understand certain terms on food packages. Product manufacturers can often be elusive–using words that sounds appealing to our health, but don’t quite measure up. Have you ever come across a package of wheat bread that claims to be “Whole Wheat,” only to look at the ingredient list and see that it has mostly enriched white flour instead of whole wheat flour? While the bread may indeed have whole wheat in it, it’s not “100% Whole Wheat” like what you may be searching for.
What you SHOULD look for on a Food Label
Whole Food – Sticking with wholesome food, or eating foods as close to the way they were originally created, is best for your body. It keeps key nutrients and vitamins in there, allowing your body to absorb them and break them down on its own. When we follow a diet that has mostly processed and refined foods, we are hurting our health. This is why it’s best to stick to fresh, in-season, colorful, and nutrient-rich foods, like the whole fruit that’s in Jolly Llama’s Sorbet Pops.
Organic – Organic foods are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Additionally, animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products aren’t on any antibiotics or growth hormones. Sometimes foods can advertise they have organic ingredients, but If it contains less than 70%, the product cannot make any organic claims on the front of the package.
Non-GMO: According to the Non GMO Project, A GMO, or genetically modified organism, is “a plant, animal, microorganism or other organism whose genetic makeup has been modified in a laboratory using genetic engineering or transgenic technology.” Many people, including scientists, consumer groups, and environmental groups, argue that that are many health risks associated with foods having GMOs. To avoid GMOs, look for labels that state they are “Non-GMO” (like Jolly Llama’s Sorbet Pops), or avoid foods containing certain ingredients such as corn, canola, beets, etc.
Product labeling is important. It is critical to not only understand what’s in your food, but also what isn’t. As the consumer, you have a right to know exactly what you’re putting into your body. At Jolly Llama, we understand how important this is, which is why our sorbet pops are properly labeled. You’ll always know that you’re eating quality, wholesome ingredients that are sure to bring you delicious enlightenment. Enjoy some today!