Unfortunately, just because something says it’s natural, wholesome or sourced from nature, doesn’t necessarily make it healthy. Just know, it’s not by any fault of your own, marketers and advertisers do this on purpose to make you believe that a product is good for you. Systems like the health star rating has come on board to help us decipher a healthy product from an unhealthy one, however brands self-regulate and products such as Milo have a 4.5 star rating, which was based on the assumption that you added it to milk (which is the healthiest ingredient). While the star system is mostly helpful, there are other things to look out for to be a second judge. GoodnessMe Box Founder, Peta Shulman shares her top 4 things to look out for when grocery shopping.
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The easiest way to assess the sugar content of a product is to divide the grams of sugar per serve by 4, which will tell you how many teaspoons of sugar it carries. For example, if a product says it contains 36g of sugar per serve, that equates to 9 teaspoons of sugar. Can you imagine eating just 9 teaspoons of sugar?! Food manufactures have clever ways of creating products where the sickliness of sugar on its own is masked by other ingredients which make it highly palatable and even addictive! If you don’t have a calculator handy, presuming that math isn’t a strong suit, all products must claim how many grams of sugar it contains per 100g. A low amount of sugar for a food is 5g or less and for a beverage 2.5g, anything more than 15g for food and 7.5g for a beverage is a high sugar content.
Check your Ingredients List
You may be looking at a product that derives its health benefits off one of the ingredients in the products, however if you look at the ingredient list it may be the last one mentioned. Be wary of health claims of a product that isn’t first cab off the rank in the ingredients list. Essentially, ingredients are listed according to their percentage of the product, so if you see sugar as the first item listed, you can be sure that most of the product is, well, sugar. If the ingredient relating to the health claim is last, it’s likely to have a low therapeutic impact, especially if it’s a long list of ingredients.
We know that anything fried can’t be good for us, but this actually depends on the oil that is used to fry the food, because the result is often the production of trans-fats. Trans fats are chemically altered and become unstable, meaning the body doesn’t know how to metabolise them. The result of consuming too much trans-fat rich foods is that we increase our production of bad cholesterol and inflammation. Trans-fats are more common in foods with a long shelf life and it’s not legislated for food companies to list whether trans-fats are present in the product. So, if a product advertises that it’s baked, not fried, consider the type of vegetable oil they have used, because they are typically sources of trans-fats.
Take a Closer Look
A package may look wholesome with images of fruit, vegetables, clever wording etc. but turn that product over and read carefully. Are there numbers in the ingredient list which indicate additives, preservatives and flavours? Are there concentrates? Or is a serving size one square of chocolate, which is totally unrealistic? The next time you’re shopping, take a hike down to the healthy food aisle and inspect the foods that are listed as “healthy” and assess for yourself whether you think it is just.
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