Food Label challenge: Ingredients matter

Ingredients matter:  8 tips to navigate the small font on the back of your foods.

If you truly want to know what is in your food, you’re going to have to ignore the front of the package, ignore the nutrition facts and go straight to that 7 point font that tells you the ingredients that are used to make the food you are about to eat.   Listed below are 3 apple cinnamon bar options that you could choose from at any typical grocery store. The front of the packaging of these products contains things like zero trans fats, made from whole grains, good source of fiber, no artificial flavors or high fructose corn syrup but look at the difference in the ingredients!  These all contain roughly the same

Bar #1:

Bar #2

Bar #3

You might be surprised to know that these are common trusted products that once you start to look at the ingredient list, you will find a huge difference!  From what you can see, which bar would you choose now?

Just so you know, bar #1 is a Larabar, bar #2 is a nutrigrain bar and bar#3 is a quaker oat square.

So after that little lesson on why it’s important to look at the ingredients, here are a short list of tips that can help you when it comes to ingredients.

Tip Number 1:  Ingredients are listed by quantity, so normally the first three ingredients will tell you about the majority of what is in that particular food.  

Tip Number 2: The shorter the list of ingredients, the more likely it is to be healthier.  As a general rule of thumb to try to buy packaged foods with no more than five ingredients; this is not always easy to follow but is a good guideline when reading labels of processed foods.

Tip Number 3:  It is generally a good idea to avoid foods loaded with ingredients that are difficult to pronounce. It is best to try to buy packaged foods with no more than five ingredients; this is not always easy to follow but is a good guideline when reading labels.

Tip Number 4: Companies do not have to list if they used GMO containing ingredients, the only way to guarantee a product doesn’t have GMO’s is if all of the ingredients are labeled as organic.

Tip Number 5: Sugar by any other name is still sugar; fructose, sucrose, dextrose, honey, corn syrup, and many other artificial sweeteners are all sugar and sugar substitutes which means they still add on calories.

Tip Number 6: Foods with ingredients that contain partially hydrogenated oils contain trans-fat!  The FDA has banned the use of trans fats to go into effect in the near future, but some companies still use these oils and Nutrition facts can say they have 0 trans fats as long as there is less than 0.5g trans fats per serving.  So even if a box is labeled trans fat free may still contain partially hydrogenated oils, which means it still contains a small amount of trans-fat.

Tip Number 7:  If you don’t want to be bothered with looking at every ingredient in the foods that you buy, start doing your shopping at Whole Foods, Earth Fare, or Trader Joes, they all have made commitments to keep some of the worst food ingredients out of the foods they carry.

Tip Number 8:  If you are interested in learning more about the ingredients that are in your foods that you cannot pronounce and what potential health effects they might have, go to

Whole foods has provided the ingredients that they consider too harmful to have in the foods they stock.  You can click on the link to see what food sources these toxic ingredients are usually put in.

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