Sunday, August 9, 2009

Nutrition Fact Labels Jill Style

Everything we put in our mouth has a product label. There is no easier way to decode whether or not something is healthy for you if you know what you are looking for on that label. When I was in ninth grade I had a teacher that showed me a simpler version of the method I use today to decide what is worth putting in my mouth. I warn you before you continue down this road you might discover your trips to the grocery store take a little longer until you get the hang of it. You might also be surprised most of your favorite foods are not as healthy as you thought they were or even worst they are slowly killing your health and wellness goals.

1. Step one check for the ingredients of doom high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils and aspartame. This step is going to be the toughest step because it puts most of the grocery store on the do not buy list. High fructose corn syrup is a cheap imitation for sugar. This deliciously addicting substance spikes your blood sugar and creeps its way on your waistline. If you do not cut this out of your life you might as well up that 401K so you can afford all those medical bills and prescription costs when you are over weight with diabetes. Its partner in crime partially hydrogenated oils clog your arteries and expand and pad your buttocks. Once again this lovely trans fat is going to be your ticket to a heart attack, obesity or both. Then we have the fallen angel of ingredients aspartame. You will find this ingredient in all the insanely sweet zero calorie foods and drinks. Do not be fooled by that pretty face, chemical versions of sugar turn into toxins that make you fat.

2. Step two find the worthwhile nutrients your body needs and add up the worth eating points. Everything under the bold line is a vitamin and is measured by percentages. Count up every 10% per vitamin and put that in the worth eating pile. So if a food has 40% of that vitamin that is 4 points of awesome. If three different vitamins have 10% to 19% that would be 3 points of worth eating goodness. Orange juice usually has 100% of vitamin C so that would be 10 points from the start!

3. Step three find the protein content and add those points to the vitamin points. Every 5 grams of protein is a point in the worth eating pile. If label showed 20 grams of protein that is 4 points.

4. Step four check the fiber content and add those points to the vitamin and protein points. Every 5 grams of fiber is a point in the worth eating pile.

5. Step five subtract points from worthwhile points for sugar and fat content. Every 5 grams of fat and 10 grams of sugars is -1 points. So if a food had 20 grams of fat and 10 grams of sugar that would be -5 points.

6. Step six do the math. Obviously if a food does not have any vitamins, protein or fiber it is not worth eating and starts at zero even before you check for negative points. If a food has fat and sugar and no vitamins, protein and fiber you are an idiot of you eat it. Classic examples are candy bars, potato chips or soda. They have nothing good in them and the fat content and/or sugar content equals out to a negative score. Most soda has at least thirty or more grams of sugar. Zero minus three equals negative three. Most potato chips have at least ten or more grams of fat. Zero minus two equals negative two. On the other hand you have raw foods such at fruits and vegetables. They have no fat and only natural sugars. The good points far out do the negative points. Baby spinach, carrots, and strawberries all have 40% or more of vitamin A or C and fiber as an added bonus. Four minus zero equals four. Skinless turkey and chicken are packed with fifteen or more grams of protein and virtually fat-free. Three minus zero equals three. Now the tricky part are the foods that have both good and bad in them. Let’s take the example of fat-free yogurt vs regular yogurt with 0% vitamin A, 35% calcium, 25% vitamin D, 0% vitamin C, 0% iron, 9 grams of protein, 0 grams of fiber and 33 grams of sugar. The good points equal six minus the three negative points for sugar content. Now if the yogurt was not fat-free the negative and positive just about equal out. Any foods that equal zero or less then zero or not worth eating. The only exception is water.

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