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Things to keep in mind while reading food labels

Picture this. You have sworn to follow a healthy lifestyle. You decided to eat healthy. But what does eating healthy mean for you? If it’s eating home-cooked meals and no junk food, you’re good to go. But if it’s eating packaged food labelled “healthy”, you need to know a few things. This includes, not all food items labelled as “healthy” are healthy. Most of them are marketing gimmicks that people fall for. 

Yes, it is a no-brainer that you should read labels. But just not the front side, the back side with all the nutritional information. 

The back side is the most truthful, but complicated at the same time. There may be numerous ingredients that are unhealthy but you wouldn’t know they are. In this case, this blog is just for you. Consider this an easy-peasy guide to read food labels. We’ll mention a few unhealthy ingredients you need to look for. 


These are chemicals formed in foods when they are cooked at high temperatures, mostly during baking and frying. They are added to give taste, aroma, and colour to the foods.

 It can cause weight gain and raise your cholesterol, elevating the risk of heart disease. 

Apart from these health risks, the chemical is also associated with cancer in animal studies. However, more studies and research are required to get conclusive results on its effect on human health. 

However, the chemical is also found in cigarettes in large amounts and the amount of the chemical added to food items is not regulated. Hence, it’s best to be aware of these chemicals and avoid them to prevent health issues in the future. 

Sodium Nitrate 

Sodium nitrite is a preservative added to prevent bacterial growth. It is mostly used in meat products and other packaged food items.  Sodium nitrate has been associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer and atherosclerosis. In addition, it impacts the body’s ability to process carbs. You should avoid the food items containing the ingredient especially if you are a diabetic. 

“No added sugar” 

Let’s say you have decided to cut sugar and hence you are on the hunt for “No added sugar” products. But just so you know, “No added sugar” food items also have sugar in them. They may not have additional sugar, but they may be products already high in sugar naturally. It is also possible that these food items already contain unhealthy sugar substitutes. 

One of the most common examples is a chocolate-flavoured protein bar. It may have no added sugar, but to imagine a chocolate bar with no sugar is unrealistic. 


Once again fat is not the enemy, if it’s healthy fat. If it’s unhealthy fat, i.e., Saturated fat and trans fat, then you should surely avoid them.  

But just so you know, even products labelled, “low in fat” are not always healthy. It’s possible that a good amount of sugar may be added to reduce fat. In this case, you should also check the “added sugar” label. 

“Made with ‘whole grains”

Whole grains seem to be healthy, aren’t they? But just so you know the amount of whole grains also matters. It is very likely that these products contain little amount of whole grains. If that’s the case, you must check the ingredient list; if these whole grains aren’t in the top three, their amount is negligible. Food labels cite ingredients in ascending order. This means the ingredients present in higher quantities are mentioned at the top. 

“Zero trans fat” 

Much to the disbelief of many, zero trans fat doesn’t mean that the product won’t have any trans fat. Instead, it means that the food item will have “less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving.” Thus, in case serving sizes are small, the food item may still contain trans fat 


We all may be tempted to believe that a particular food item is made of natural ingredients. But in reality, it could also mean it is made of “some” natural ingredients, not all. 

Closing thoughts

To wrap it up, keeping these tips in mind while scanning food labels can really make a difference in your health journey. So, next time you’re at the grocery store, don’t forget to give those labels a closer look. Your body will thank you for it!

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