How To Read Nutrition Labels For Optimal Health
Make an Informed Decision
Nutrition labels aid in making informed decisions. Choices that help determine our health and happiness. However, if you do not know the basics of effectively label reading you are most likely including numerous unhealthy elements into your daily regimen.
Make Healthy Choices
Make healthy choices easy by checking our Seal of Approvals from time to time. There are two parts to the food labels, the nutritional facts segment and the ingredient portion. A good food evaluation ideally utilizes both the nutritional facts plus the ingredient listings to make the finest decision.
Limit Red Dots Get Plenty of Blue Dots.
This part of the label informs us on the amount of calories, protein, carbohydrates, sugars, fibers, fats, and saturated fats that the product contains. Grams are what most of the nutrients are measured in. Smaller ones are calculated in milligrams (1,000 mg = 1 gram).
The following is an example of the Nutritional Facts label:
1 Gram of protein = 4 calories.
1 Gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories.
1 Gram of fat = 9 calories.
1 Gram of alcohol = 7 calories.
The above label has 250 calories
The amount of protein calories is 20 because 4 x 5 = 20
The amount of carbohydrate calories is 124 because 4 x 31 = 124
The amount of fat calories is 108 because 9 x 12 = 108
If you wanted to figure out the percentage of calories each one had you would just divide the calories that it had by the total number of calories. For example there is 20 calories of protein so that would be 20 divided by the total number of calories which is 250 which gives you 8%. The carbs would be 124 divided by 250 which is 49%. The fat would be 108 divided by 250 which is 43%. So this serving would consist of 8% protein calories, 49% carbohydrate calories, and 43% fat calories. This is especially useful if you are implementing a diet that emphasizes percentages. The important part is the type and quantity. Proteins are the building blocks of muscle and neurotransmitters. However, your body does not require more than 10-15% protein. Infact, too much protein creates an acidic environment within the body where sickness, cancer and a myriad of many health challenges can thrive. Recommended protein sources come from vegetables, beans, lentils and even fruits. There are many high protein vegetables sources such as spirulina, quinoa, and hemp. Carbohydrates are the primary source of fuel for the body. Wonderful carbohydrate sources come from the non-starchy vegetables such as kale, spinach, broccoli, sprouts, and fruits and whole grains. A word of caution with grains, many types of bread and cereals are highly processed. The nutrients are removed leaving empty calories with a high glycemic index (a carbohydrate that causes extra stress on the pancreas and blood sugar levels). Many types of bread claiming to be nutritious wheat breads contain highly processed grains. An easy way to discover this is to see what the first two ingredients are. If it states anything enriched such as enriched wheat flour it has been highly processed, and therefore not healthy. It will also have a greater glycemic index since all the fiber has been removed. Enriched wheat flour is white flour that has four synthetic nutrients added back in to give a false sense of nutritional value. This is not even close in comparison to the twenty natural nutrients and high fiber of natural whole wheat taken out to make white flour. Healthy fats are important nutrients in a diet. Healthy fats are vital when a baby’s brain is developing. We want to get plenty of the omega 3 fatty acids such as flax seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, and spirulina. Avoid trans fatty acids these are very un healthy fats that are created through hydrogenation. They can facilitate many health problems. Anytime you see hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils on the ingredients list you have just discovered a trans fat and it is best to avoid consumption of that product. Another “bad fat” is the saturated fat from animals sources such as beef, pork, chicken. Some wonderful fats come from flax seeds, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados. The serving size is the amount of food per serving. Calories and grams are calculated on the label from the serving size. These are important to notice because some companies will show moderate calories and grams, however the serving size can be much smaller than you would imagine. Keep An Eye Out For, in the nutritional facts portions Keys to look for are sugars, saturated and trans fats. You want to limit your sugars from high glycemic sources, and all the unhealthy fats.
The most important part of the label is the INGREDIENTS portion. This will allow you to know if the product contains un-healthy chemicals: toxins that you would not have known where included from viewing only the nutritional section. If it contains a few ingredients that you cannot pronounce chances are that is not a nutritious option. In this section it will list the ingredients in the largest quantities first and as you go down the list the ingredients at the end should be a much smaller amount. This will give you some idea of the amount of certain substances. For example say the ingredients were as follows:
Ingredients: Rice flour, high fructose corn syrup, crispy rice, oat flour, salt.
This product would have far more high fructose corn syrup (basically an inexpensive table sugar) than salt. And the largest quantity of this product would be rice flour.
Important Information That Is Not On the Label
Unfortunately, there is some very important information that labels will not tell us.
They do not inform us if an ingredient is genetically modified. Genetically modified foods are foods that have been altered genetically. Frequently they are implanted with a pesticide from bacteria or containing a bacteria gene that allows the producer to spray herbicides such as Round Up on the crop without killing it. In addition, antibiotic resistant genes are incorporated into most of the genetically altered organisms. This can cause the development of super bacteria, which could make some sickness unresponsive to antibiotics. The following are foods that many times are gene-altered foods: soy, corn, potatoes, cottonseed oils, canola, papayas, squash, beets, and tomatoes. How do you make sure you do not include genetically modified foods? Purchase organic foods. Organic foods do not use gene-altered foods.
They do not let us know if a food has been irradiated. This process uses ionizing radiation to sterilize food. Unfortunately, it creates a high amount of free radicals in your food, which harm your immune system and accelerate the aging process. Meats, eggs, and seasonings are foods that might be irradiated.
They do not tell us if a product contains free glutamic acid. They can say no MSG on a label, yet, contain a substantial amount of free glutamic acid (the bad stuff in MSG). We have included free glutamic acid culprits in the following Unhealthy Ingredients list.
The glycemic load of the overall product is also very important.
This allows for an individual to know how much the product will raise their insulin levels. This is especially important in diabetics or anyone wishing to balance their blood sugar levels. The label may be misleading because it may contain a decent amount of sugars; however, those sugars may be from something such as fruit that has a low glycemic rating. Foods that have high glycemic ratings include sugar, high fructose corn syrup, white bread, white potatoes.
Remember even many products that you will find in health food stores claiming they are nutritious can have undesirable chemicals in them making them unhealthy. The following are ingredients that are unhealthy. We will continually update this portion adding chemical ingredients so that you can make informed decisions.
Bad Food Additives
Make sure the products you purchase do not contain any of these.
Acacia Gum – Asthma, has caused death in animals.
Acesulfame-K – “Sunette”; Cancer, elevated cholesterol levels. Also may interfere with low blood sugar.
Alganic Acid – Birth defects as well as complications with pregnancy – Avoid if you are pregnant.
Artificial colors – Hyperactivity in children, possible learning and visual difficulties, nerve damage, possible carcinogen.
Artificial sweeteners – A wide variety of health problems.
Aspartame – Brain damage; central nervous system disturbances, menstrual difficulties; may hinder brain development in fetus.
Autolyzed Yeast – Contains free glutamic acid (The bad stuff in MSG). See Free Glutamic Acid.
Benzoic Acid- Asthma, stomach irritation, neurological problems.
BHA – Damage to the liver and kidneys, behavioral problems, infertility, weakens immune system, birth defects, cancer; should be avoided by infants, young children, pregnant women and those sensitive to aspirin.
BHT – Same problems associated with BHA; banned in England.
Blue No. 1 – see FD&C colors.
Blue No. 2 – see FD&C colors.
Brominated vegetable oil – Organ system damage, birth defects, growth problems; considered unsafe by the FDA, can still lawfully be used unless further action is taken by the FDA.
BVO – Same as brominated vegetable oil.
Caffeine – psychoactive, addictive drug; may cause fertility problems, birth defects, heart disease, depression, nervousness, behavioral changes, insomnia, etc.
Calcium caseinate – Contains free glutamic acid (The bad stuff in MSG). See Free Glutamic Acid.
Citrus Red No. 2 – see FD&C colors.
FD&C colors – potential carcinogens, may contain carcinogenic contaminants, and cause allergic reactions.
Flavor or Flavorings – Contains free glutamic acid (The bad stuff in MSG). See Free Glutamic Acid.
Ferric pyrophosphate – Tumors, stomach problems.
Ferric sodium pyrophosphate – see Ferric pyrophosphate.
Ferrous lactate – see Ferric pyrophosphate.
Free glutamates – (The bad stuff in MSG) Classified as an excitotoxin, because they can over stimulate brain cells to death. Brain damage, especially in children; Additives that always contain free glutamic acid are listed throughout the UNHEALTHY INGREDIENTS list. Sometimes free glutamic acid can be found in barley malt, boullion, broth, carrageenan, malt extract, malt flavoring, maltodextrin, natural flavors, natural chicken flavoring, natural beef flavoring, natural pork flavoring, pectin, protein drinks, seasonings, soy protein, soy protein concentrate, soy protein isolate, soy sauce, soy sauce extract, stock, whey protein, whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, anything that is enzyme modified, fermented, protein fortified or ultra pasteurized as well as foods that advertise NO MSG; see MSG.
Gelatin – Contains free glutamic acid (The bad stuff in MSG). See Free Glutamic Acid.
Green No. 3 – see FD&C colors.
Gum Arabic – Asthma, has caused death in animals.
Hydrogenated vegetable oils – Heart disease, breast and colon cancer, atherosclerosis, elevated cholesterol.
Hydrolyzed protein – Contains free glutamic acid (The bad stuff in MSG). See Free Glutamic Acid.
Hydrolyzed vegetable protein – Contains free glutamic acid (The bad stuff in MSG). See Free Glutamic Acid.
MSG – Headaches, itching, nausea, brain, nervous system, reproductive disorders, high blood pressure; pregnant woman need to avoid, lactating mothers, infants, small children should avoid; allergic reactions common; may be hidden in infant formula especially easy to digest formulas containing hydrolyzed protein, low fat milk, candy, chewing gum, drinks, over-the-counter medications, especially children’s, binders and fillers for nutritional supplements, prescriptiona nd non-prescription drugs, IV fluids given in hospitals, chicken pox vaccine; it is being sprayed on growing fruits and vegetables as a growth enhancer; it is proposed for use on organic crops.
Neotame – Related to aspartame, could even be more toxic.
Nitrates – Create cancer-causing agents in stomach; can cause death; considered dangerous by FDA but not banned because they prevent botulism.
Nitrites – may cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness; see nitrates.
Nutrasweet – Same as aspartame.
Olean – Same as olestra.
Olestra – Gastrointestinal irritation, reduces carotenoids and fat soluble vitamins in the body.
Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils – see hydrogenated vegetable oil.
Plant protein extract – Contains free glutamic acid (The bad stuff in MSG). See Free Glutamic Acid.
Potassium bromate – nervous system and kidney disorders, gastrointestinal upset, possibly carcinogenic.
Propyl Gallate – Asthma, stomach problems, liver and kidney damage.
Protease – Contains free glutamic acid (The bad stuff in MSG). See Free Glutamic Acid.
Protease Enzyme – Contains free glutamic acid (The bad stuff in MSG). See Free Glutamic Acid.
Red No. 3 – see FD&C colors.
Saccharin – Cancer.
Sodium Caseinate – Contains free glutamic acid (The bad stuff in MSG). See Free Glutamic Acid.
Sulfites – destroys vitamin B1; asthma, anaphylactic shock, allergies, deaths have been related to sulfites.
Sweet ‘N Low – contains saccharin.
Textured vegetable protein- Contains free glutamic acid (The bad stuff in MSG). See Free Glutamic Acid.
Textured protein – Contains free glutamic acid (The bad stuff in MSG). See Free Glutamic Acid.
Yeast Extract – Contains free glutamic acid (The bad stuff in MSG). See Free Glutamic Acid.
Yeast nutrient – Contains free glutamic acid (The bad stuff in MSG). See Free Glutamic Acid.
Yellow No. 6 – see FD&C colors.
Of course, if you have any food allergies it is best to avoid the foods that induce an allergic response. The following is a link to help discover any food allergies you may have. Food Allergies
Using garbage as fuel for your body will not provide the proper energy necessary to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. People are perplexed why there are such increases in fatigue, obesity, chronic and mental ailments. When you consume toxic chemicals on a regular basis, you will eventually experience health consequences from lack of energy to serious life threatening diseases. We determine what the food manufacturers will make. If we continue to consume the foods that contain unhealthy chemicals, the food industry will continue making those products. If we stop those foods, it will not be beneficial for those companies to continue possessing those products. What we consume greatly effects the way we function and feel. By combining the nutrition panel and the ingredient listings, we can effectively read labels and make empowered choices that will help ensure our health and happiness.
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