Decoding food labels: Essential things to consider

In the recent years, there are has been an incredible focus on eating healthy foods made with 100 per cent “real ingredients”. Cashing in on this trend, many products are labelled healthy even if they are processed, and made using refined ingredients.

So, how do you ensure consuming quality foods? Experts highlight the need to read ingredients to differentiate between what is claimed to be healthy, and what actually is.

Ayurvedic practitioner Dr Varalakshmi Yanamandra recently took to Instagram to share some such examples.

“Just because something sounds healthy, doesn’t mean it is healthy. Companies use clever marketing gimmicks to sell their products,” she said in an Instagram post.

Here’s a list!

Low fat

What you think: It is healthy and helps you lose weight.

What it actually means: Low fat, but is full of processed sugar to make it tasty.

Instead: Check for sugar content and additives before buying.


What you think: Full of whole grain and fibre.

What it actually means: It contains more than three grains which could be refined or whole grain.

Instead: Look for 100 per cent whole grain/whole wheat.

No added sugar

What you think: Doesn’t contain any sugar, and is low-carb.

What it actually means: Contains sugar from natural sources or has artificial sweeteners.

Instead: Look for artificial sweeteners and sugar content on the pack.

Made with real fruit

What you think: Contains real fruit and is healthy.

What it actually means: May have used a part of fruit during processing.

Instead: Buy foods with 100 per cent real fruit labels.

Zero transfat

What you think: Contains no trans fat/heart healthy.

What it actually means: May contain 0.5 per cent transfat or have used other names for it.

Instead: Look for partially hydrogenated fat. Peanut butter, margarine are common examples.

High protein

food labels, food products, how to read a food label, a beginners guide to food labels, understanding food labels, indian express, indian express news Look for terms and ingredients when reading food labels. (Source: Express Archives)

What you think: Full of protein to build muscle.

What it actually means: Contains protein from any source, which may not be 100 per cent natural.

Instead: Get protein from whole foods or natural foods that increase the intake naturally.

What’s your take?

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