Health Matters: Decoding What You Eat

When grocery shopping, trying to decode a nutrition label can be difficult.

A nutrition label has a lot of information into what you’re feeding your body.

While food companies need to tell you the nutrition facts of its food how they tell you can be misleading.

Fortunately, I spoke with a dietician at Essentia who has a few helpful decoding tips.

Walking down the aisles of a grocery store, the options are limitless.

Some healthy, some not so much.

But how do you know?
“How much sugar, how much sodium,” says Robert Davis of West Fargo.
“High fructose corn syrup I know that’s not good for you,” says Madison Erickson of Moorhead.
All correct, but here’s where the decoding comes in.
“A food can have trans-fat but as long as a serving has less than .4 grams it can claim that it has 0 percent,” says Essentia Health dietitian, Vanessa Berg.
So, how do you know?

Well many companies use another word for it, hydrogenated oil.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there.
“Basically if the word is syrup it’s probably some variation of high fructose corn syrup,” says Berg.
Whether it’s maize syrup, corn syrup or fructose syrup they all mean the same thing.

High fructose corn syrup is in your food.
“We very seldom go up the inner aisles because there’s a lot of sugar,” says Davis.
If you do venture into the inner aisles before you throw those pop tarts into the cart check out the ingredient label.

The ingredients are listed in descending order of weight.
“If sugar is one of the first four ingredients, it might not be the best choice,” says Berg.
But if you’re reaching for the sugar free option, not so fast.

Both the sugar free and sugar options usually have the same amount of calories, same carbohydrates, and to replace that taste, the fat content is usually higher in the sugar free.
“Just the sugar piece doesn’t tell the whole story there,” says Berg.
The whole decoding process can cost you time but by not doing it, it can cost you your health.
“I have to take care of myself because nobody else is going to do it,” says Davis.
Berg also says that all of the percentages you see on a nutrition label are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Unfortunately, those numbers many not apply to you.

She says many people require more and many require much less.

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