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Food Labels Made Easy

Food labels can be deceiving and tricky. It’s hard to determine what is ‘healthy’ and what isn’t if you’re not really sure what to look for. While ‘healthy’ means something different to every person, here are some easy ways to determine whether a food is nutritious.

Read The Ingredient List
The ingredients list is supposed to go in order of quantity. Be sure to take a look at the first three ingredients. If any of these are sugar, enriched wheat flour, or something relatively unhealthy, you might want to reconsider.

How Long Is The Ingredient List?
If you don’t have enough time to read every ingredient, at least take a glance at how long the list is. If the list is long and contains ingredients you don’t recognize or cannot pronounce, then you should probably pass.

Types Of Fats
Most people think fats are evil, when, in reality, we should be eliminating bad fats and increasing quality fats. For example, we should be aiming to eliminate trans fats and decrease saturated fats in our diets, while increasing our consumption of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

Look For “100%”
When shopping for breads, look for “100% whole grains.” They may say whole grain or multigrain, but unless it is preceded by “100%” it is likely processed with refined grains. The same goes for juices and other drinks – if it’s not 100%, it’s probably just sugar.

Convenience vs. Nutrition
Frozen and quick prep meals can be convenient, but it’s likely that their nutritional value is rather low. If you’re looking for something healthy, it is better to buy something in its original state, for example, veggies like bell peppers, and spend some time in the kitchen.

Expiration Dates
Longer shelf lives often mean more added preservatives and fillers. Shorter shelf life may be less convenient but often provide the best nutrients.

Consider Your Location In The Grocery Store
Grocery stores know what they are doing when it comes to product placement. You have likely noticed that the foods around the checkout stand are not the healthiest. Be sure to resist the temptation as you’re checking out.

Focus On Fiber
When people check the label, more often than not, they are simply looking at the calories. However, it proves beneficial to look at it all. If a product has fiber, it helps to eliminate simple-carb, high-sugar food products.

Sugar Content
The American Heart Association recommends that we consume no more than 25 grams of sugar per day, even though most of us go well over that. Try to avoid foods high in sugar content, and beware of the many pseudonyms, which include syrups, nectars, and words ending is “-ose.”

Ponder Packaging
Be wary of claims like “all natural” as this is not regulated by the FDA, thus manufacturers can use it as they please. Commonly, you will find it on protein bars and snack food, despite the chemicals and other additives that would not be considered natural.

If you’re looking for nutritious foods, your best bet is to go with whole foods like fruits, veggies and whole grains. How do you keep your diet healthy? Did we miss anything? Share your tips with your peers and us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, or LinkedIn. You can also find us on Instagram, Vine, and Pinterest.

For a fresh, natural, and just plain yummy meal, visit the Brick Market & Deli – Your Neighborhood Deli in Pomona. Save time by ordering online or visit us in store weekdays 10:30am-7:30pm and Saturdays 10:30am-4:30pm.