Dr. Katz, author and medical contributor for ABC News, shared his five foolproof tips for deciphering food labels with eDiets and I found them enlightening, so I wanted to share them with you.
- Never Trust the Front of the Package. No matter how enticing the claims on the front of that bag, box, bottle or can may seem, you need to spin that package around in order to get to the truth. "Always look at the ingredient list and the nutrition facts," Dr. Katz advises. "That’s the only place on a food package where you are guaranteed to get the truth… and nothing but the truth."
- Pay Attention to the First Ingredient. Remember the ingredients are listed in order of abundance. Therefore, Dr. Katz advises consumers to pay careful attention to the first item on an ingredient list. "In a breakfast cereal, if the first ingredient is sugar, you have to ask yourself whether this is really a cereal product. I think if the first ingredient is sugar, it is a sugar product. That means it is more like a dessert."
- Beware of Common Public Enemies. There are certain ingredients people should be certain to avoid at all cost. Dr. Katz says public enemies number one and two are partially hydrogenated oil and high fructose corn syrup. Other ingredients to look out for are artificial ingredients of any kind, especially those with long, chemical names. "You have to find them in a crowded ingredient list, and that’s kind of like looking for Waldo in the ‘Where’s Waldo’ game," he says. "It is looking for a familiar face in a big crowd. But, in this case, when you find partially hydrogenated oil in a crowded ingredient list, step away from the box and nobody will get hurt."
- Look for a Short Ingredient List. According to Dr. Katz, this fourth clue is the most important one. "If someone were to ask me for just one tip about reading labels, I would tell them to look for a short ingredient list," Dr. Katz says. "In almost any food category, the shorter the ingredient list, the more wholesome the product." After all, he says, the foods that have the shortest ingredient lists of all are perfectly natural foods. For instance, the ingredient list in a banana is "banana"… and that’s it!
- Look for Whole Grains and Fiber. The fifth and final clue pertains only to grain products, such as breads, cereals, granola bars, chips and crackers. This one is really two clues in one. First of all, Dr. Katz suggests looking for the word "whole" in the ingredient list. "If something says wheat bread, that doesn’t mean it is whole-wheat bread," he says. The next indicator of whether or not a product is a good source of whole grains is the amount of fiber it contains. "Fiber is your friend," Dr. Katz advises. "Look for 2 grams or more for every 100 calories to know that you are getting a decent whole grain."
There's more great tips so