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Food Labels-Reading Between the Lines

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Xuất bản 29/06/2016
Fresh out of college Gavin Perko is ready to graduate to a better diet. “Just to eat healthier, instead of eating fast food all the time. Grocery shopping now that I’m older,” says Perko. He pays more attention to packages; picking items like popcorn chips over salty snack counterparts. Like many of us, Gavin is swayed by health claims. “All the naturals, the organic, fat-free, low sugar. Those things kind of catch my eye,” says Perko. “People have a tendency to read the front of the package, which is all marketing, and forget to turn over and actually look at what’s mandated by the Food & Drug Administration, which is the nutrition facts label,” says Jeanne Struve. She is a registered dietitian with Lee Memorial Health System, who is wise to the work that goes into labeling. “Trying to figure out what makes a consumer buy something. When you can tag it ‘no cholesterol’ or ‘no fat’ or ‘no sugar’ those are things that people go ‘oh well, it must be healthy,’” says Struve. They are called health buzz words and studies show they work. People purchase on the perception of wholesome qualities. It boils down to buyer beware. To increase your food smarts, we have tips to help you read between the lines. A common practice is to hide sugars on the nutrition label, by breaking it into several ingredients. “Look for the high fructose corn syrup or the dextrose or the sucrose. They can call it syrup; they can call it brown sugar. What the food manufacturers will do, is put in so much sugar, but they put it in in different names so that they can stagger it throughout the ingredients so it doesn’t show up as the number one ingredient.” Manufacturers may count on confusing shoppers who aren’t prepared to do math in the grocery isle. “Every 4 grams of sugar equals 1 tsp. of sugar,” Struve demonstrates with a bowl of cereal. “So for example, this product has 17 grams of sugar that would be the equivalent of 4 tsps.” Lastly, don’t be fooled by the color of your bread. “Manufacturers a lot of times just add some caramel coloring, make it brown, and people assume that it’s a whole grain. Look for the number: 100% whole wheat, 100% whole grain. Tasty tidbits to increase your food IQ. “When I see all natural or low fat, i would assume that they would be healthier for you,” says Perko. View More Health Matters video segments at Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we’ve been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Visit
fast food diet syrup sucrose dextrose cholesterol organic food Food labels nutrition labels nutrition facts label healthy eating perception of wholesome qualities fat free low sugar food packaging food marketing high fructose corn syrup brown sugar confusing shopper caramel coloring 100% whole wheat 100% whole grain health buzz words food smarts hide sugars