Food Labels, what does it all mean to your health
These labels are one of the main reasons that I try to stay away from packaged foods as much as is humanly possible. They are confusing, they can’t, blatantly misrepresent what’s in the product however there are often unexplained discrepancies due to omissions.
What do I mean by this?
Each and every macronutrient has a unit of energy (a calorie is simply a measure unit of energy) contained within it,
Protein 4 calories per gram
Fats 9 calories per gram
Carbohydrates 4 calories per gram
Alcohol 7 calories per gram
A food label on a popular breakfast cereal this is what it shows.
You can see here Total calories per serve 152.9 calories. Just the cereal, (you also need to factor in milk to this equation)
4.3 protein – 17.2 calories
0.8 fat – 7.2 calories
28.3 carbohydrates – 113.2
Total calories per serve 137.6
So as you can see there is a discrepancy of almost 15.3 calories (>10%) in this product, the hidden calories, which typically are made up of hidden sugars or unaccounted for sugars.
Another super commonly consumed soft drink nutritional chart basically shows that this product is made up of Sugar and salt, that’s it, no other nutritional value to you at all. 40 grams of sugar is the same as 10 teaspoons of added sugar in one can of soft drink. We all know that soft drink isn’t great, but I am also going to show you things that we think are healthier but often are not. A glass of pure orange juice 200mls (which we readily give to our kids all the time) which is approximately half the size of the can mentioned above. Holds 17.8 gr of sugar (4.5 teaspoons of sugar) and all the other “goodness” found in an orange is basically all but eliminated in a glass of juice, such as fibre, potassium, calcium, vitamin c (reduced).
These are drinks and we may or may not be aware of these issues but there are many others in foods that are a little more insidious and have the community misinformed and unable to make better choices.
A tin of Tuna, why would we eat this product, generally because we recognize that tuna is high in Omega 3 Essential fatty acids (EFA’s), in fact it is marketed as such.
Some background - the imbalance between omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids is a major cause of inflammation in the body in the western world, inflammation leads to chronic disease, heart disease, cancers, diabetes etc. So, as you can see its vitally important that we attempt to balance up these ratios.
I have previously done a 3-part blog article on the importance of this issue, take a few minutes and read over that as well.
The ideal ratios should be
1:1-4 Omega 3 to Omega 6
Most diets in the western world are 1:10-15
And if you eat fast food more than twice a week can run as high as 1:40
So if we are trying to balance these ratios back to ideal levels we need to eat a product that allows us to eat higher quantities of omega 3.
Polyunsaturated fats comprise Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats.
Polyunsaturated fats in 100 gr of Tuna slices in olive oil, by a widely recognized brand (who we recognize by the fish they reject) = 3.1 grams or 3100mg. Omega 3 in the same tin per 100gr = 106mg which means that the rest or 2994mg is Omega 6 or a ratio of 28.4 times. So, a product you are eating to try and rectify your ratios is actually doing significant harm to those ratios, contributing heavily to the imbalance we are trying and need so badly to even up.
But this product literally has on its label – “A GOOD SOURCE OF OMEGA – 3”
All I say to people I coach and mentor around optimal health is there is no need to put a food label on an Apple, we know what it is, we know what’s in it, it is perfect. The more food you eat that doesn’t require food labels the healthier you will be. BUT, if you do need to eat food with labels required, please take the time to read, or learn to read what it is you are putting in your body. If you have any questions or queries visit our Facebook page and ask away. If there is anything, we can do to assist you to make healthier choices, don’t hesitate to ask.