With almost every food claiming to be healthy and nutritious for our body, oftentimes it becomes challenging to understand which food is healthy and which one should be avoided. Looking at the ingredients label could be a great way to assess the ingredients of the edible product, but before that, you should also have an understanding of what to look for in that label.
We understand that the definition of “healthy” is not the same for everyone. A person looking forward to losing weight won’t share similar philosophies with a person looking forward to muscle gain. But then, there are certain basic nutrition checks that apply to all individuals.
Understanding what categorizes edibles as good food and drinks are essential for keeping both the mind and body fit and healthy.
By focusing on the right components, you may restrict your focus on the most important parts of a food’s nutritional profile. So, the next time you’re trying to figure out how to identify whether a meal is nutritious, keep an eye out for these characteristics.
1. Check The Ingredients List
Food labels contain the most information regarding what your food and drinks contain. They help you in making an informed choice. The list mostly speaks about what the food is, what are the ingredients used, nutritional values, measures of each ingredient, allergens, and additives, directions for use, nutrition and health claims, etc. Remember that the ingredients are listed in the order of their quantity. So, if enriched wheat flour and sugar make it to the top of the list, make sure to check their proportion in the food.
2. Check The Sugar Content
Avoid sugary meals since excess sugar is bad for your overall health. The American Heart Association suggests consumption of no more than 25g of sugar every day. Companies often include sugar in food products using hidden names. When in doubt, look at the different names of sweeteners.
3. Food Additives and Allergens
A meal’s quality, flavor, or appearance may all be improved with the use of food additives. However, they must be used in an absolute minimum amount to serve the purpose. Interestingly, vitamins and minerals also come under additives, and as per FSANZ, food ingredients that act as allergens should be listed on the label. People with certain allergies should always check the label as allergens even in the least amount can cause adverse health hazards.
4. Gluten- Labelling
Look at the label for the presence of gluten-containing cereals such as wheat, barley, oats, rye, and spelt. It is essential for people with conditions like gluten sensitivity and coeliac disease.
5. Look For The Kinds Of Fats In Your Food
Focusing on the right fats is essential when it comes to fat content. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids should be raised, whereas trans fat should be removed from the diet. A product’s high-fat content often deters buyers, but if the fat belongs to the good fats category, the product might be a better choice.
6. Health Star Rating
The Health Star Rating is a front-of-pack labeling system that assesses the entire nutritional profile of packaged food and provides it a rating from ½ a star to 5 stars. It gives a fast, convenient, consistent approach to evaluating comparable packaged meals. The more stars, the healthier the option.