Have you noticed the increase of healthy pet food commercials lately?
These commercials do a great job of educating the public about the importance of reading ingredient labels before purchasing your pet’s food. I find this ironic considering the state of human health and nutrition today.
Now don’t get me wrong. I‘m an animal lover through and through. As a child, my family had many a dog (and guinea pig and hamster and rabbit). My brother and I once nursed a baby raccoon back to health. And my husband and I saved a nest of baby birds a few years back. And, if I owned a dog today, you can bet I’d be providing her with the best nutrition available. My only point is this… what about human food?
I mean, wouldn’t it be nice if we lived in a world where equal time was being spent to educate the public about human food in a similarly open and honest manner. Ah yes, it certainly would be. But you and I both know that these “read your label” commercials for human food won’t be in production any time soon. So we must take matters into our own hands.
Here are a few guidelines for us humans to live by whenever we find ourselves purchasing packaged foods (which hopefully is the exception more than the rule):
• Always, always, always read the label of any product before purchasing it!
• If you can’t pronounce it, it’s likely it’s not good for your health.
• Be aware that ingredients are listed in high-to-low order according to the percentage of the ingredient found in the product. For example, if sugar or one of its derivatives (high fructose corn syrup, maltose, dextrose or pretty much any ingredient ending in ose) is listed as the first, second or third ingredient in the product, it is primarily made of refined sugar.
• Avoid products that use artificial sweeteners such as NutraSweet and aspartame. Use natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup or stevia on a limited basis.
• Avoid products that include hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats like margarine, vegetable oil, safflower oil, and canola oil. Always look for oils that are labeled cold-pressed (not to be confused with cold-processed which is a play on words).
• Look for products that use sea salt rather than refined salt.
• Avoid reduced fat or low fat products because they typically increase the amount of sugar or artificial sweetener in order to improve the taste. Plus you need healthy fats (a topic for another time).
• Avoid white flour and white flour products. Look for whole or sprouted grains and try something different like spelt (which has a nice nutty flavor).
• Be aware that corn and soy are two of the top genetically modified crops (which means excessive use of pesticides). If purchasing a product with either ingredient, you should consider buying organic.
Those are a few good tips to keep in mind when purchasing packaged foods. And let us end with a quiz to help drive home the importance of reading labels.
Can you name this well-known product based on it’s ingredients listed below?
Water, corn syrup, hydrogenated coconut and palm kernel oils, sugar, sodium caseinate, polysorbate 60 and sorbitan monostrearate, natural and artificial flavors, xanthan gum and guar gum, artificial color.
And the answer is (scroll down):
I know, I know. It seemed so harmless.