Do you ever read food labels? If not, it’s a useful skill to develop to keep yourself and your family healthy for many years to come in your new country.
What kind of information can you find on a food label?
If you answered ‘nutritional’ and ‘ingredients’, you are right. Let’s look at them one by one.
Nutritional information tells you how much fat, protein and carbohydrates are in the food. It will also show you how much sodium there is, and whether or not there are any vitamins and minerals in that food.
The second part is the list of ingredients. Here you will find what this food is made of, for example sugar, flour, eggs, salt, etc.
Which is more important to read, nutritional information or the list of ingredients?
The list of ingredients is more important because it lets you know WHAT you are actually eating. In Canada, when you buy PACKAGED food at a regular supermarket, almost all this food will contain some type of chemicals. Those chemicals are toxic to your body so you want to avoid them.
For example, you want to buy potato chips. What should be the ingredient list on potato chips? Potatos, salt, oil. Three ingredients! If you find a package like this, go ahead and buy it. However, if the list of ingredients if 15 items long, beware! Try to read it and you will surely have some difficulty. Why? Because some of those words are the names of chemicals added to your food.
If you usually buy canned food, for example, canned beans, take a look at the ingredients. It should be beans, water and salt. If there are any words on it that you can’t pronounce, those are chemicals.
You may be surprised to find out that even frozen fish contain added chemicals. Again, read the information on the package and make an informed decision.
Here are 8 chemicals that are especiall toxic:
sodium nitrates and sodium nitrites (cause colon cancer and lead to diabetes)
sodium benzoate and potassium benzoate (benzene is known cancerogen)
hydrogenated oil (clogs your arteries and causes obesity)
trans fats (raise your bad cholesterol)
corn syrup (boosts your fat-storing hormone and causes you to gain weight)
BHA Butylated Hydroxyanisole (causes cancer)
blue, green, red and yellow food colouring (linked to thyroid, adrenal, bladder, kidney and brain cancers, causes ADD in children)
MSG (monosodium glutamate) (can cause brain damage; nausea, headaches, chest pains and weakness; causes weight gain)
One more thing that matters is the order of ingredients. If the first or a second ingredient of that cereal you’re buying is sugar, you are buying a box of sugar! The ingredients are listed from most to least – what is most is written in the beginning.