For a Healthier Diet,Become an 'Able Label Reader'
Net carbs. Trans fat. Sugar alcohol. Xanthan gum. Milligrams. Do you sometimes feel you’re reading something out of a chemistry book when you pick up your cereal box or reach for a snack bar? You’re not alone. Label lingo has really changed over the years and, although some may find it informative, others feel overwhelmed. Here are some way to decipher the ingredients in the foods you buy. Most words ending in “ose,” are sugars, such as sucrose, fructose, maltose. Some exceptions: cellulose (fiber), and polydextrose and sucralose (sugar substitute Spenda). Raw sugar, corn syrup, molasses, honey and sucanat are other forms of sugar. Most words that end in “ol” are sugar alcohols — sorbitol, glycerol (glycerine), erythritol and malitol. They are not technically sugar as they have fewer calories, while adding sweetness and moisture to foods. Some of these have an unpleasant laxative effect. Sugar substitutes found in many soft drinks, ice cream and even throat lozenges are chemically processed sweeteners that offer virtually no calorie or nutrient value. You may recognize them by their chemical or brand name: saccharin (Sweet & Low), aspartame (Natra Taste), sucralose (Splenda) or acesulfame potassium. Stevia Supreme is an herbal sweetener that can be used as sugar, without the calories and the chemical processing of sugar substitutes. Fat replacers are needed to put moisture and flavor into fatfree foods. Often they are in the form of hidden carbohydrates, such as maltodextrin, corn syrup, polydextrose or as fibers such as carrageenan, pectin or xanthan gum. Reading food lables — the fine print • Look for foods that contain the same ingredients you would use at home. • Ingredients are listed in order by weight, most to least. • Avoid food products that have so many ingredients they can barely fit on the label. • Watch out for unhealthy ingredients like hydrogenated oils (shortening). • Minimize food products containing artificial colors, nitrates, nitrites, sulfites, MSG, and preservatives BHA, BHT. • Be sure to look at the serving size. Want to learn more on how you can be an able label reader? Consider signing up for a Nutrition Walk or a CarbWise class with a Elliot Hospital Registered, NH Licensed Dietitian at your Manchester Hannaford locations at John Devine Drive and Hanover Street. Call (603) 663-2106 for more information. NH