All of this confusion around a food label inspired me to post a rebuttal to "Food Babe" this week on my blog to show you that complicated words can actually represent natural ingredients, and sometimes the trendy words can be misleading.
1. Ingredients are listed in descending order in terms of their concentration in a product. For example, in the food label of a granola bar shown below, the top three ingredients are, "Whole Grain Oats," "Sugar," and "Canola Oil." Therefore, I know that this particular product is high whole grains, sugar, and oil, and lower in baking soda, soy lecithin, and salt. Ideally, it would be best if "sugar" was farther down the list, because we want little to no added sugars in our foods.
- Agave Nectar
- All Syrups (Maple, Corn, Cane, Carob, Golden, Invert, King's, Malt, Refiner's, Sorghum...etc)
- Sugar Cane
3. Crack the codes for Vitamins and Minerals. A lot of intimidating terminology that may seem toxic and harmful, actually translates into natural vitamins and minerals! I've listed common chemical names for vitamins and minerals below. Sometimes the chemical names will vary depending on the structure of the vitamin or mineral in a product. For example, Thiamin Mononitrate vs Thiamin Hydrochloride. The "mononitrate" and the "hydrochloride" can give us a glimpse into how the thiamin is structured in a product, but the important thing to note is the "thiamin," which translates into Vitamin B1 (see below). Another example is Zinc Sulfate vs Elemental Zinc vs Zinc Oxide. Regardless of its chemical structure, the important thing to note is the "zinc," which is a very important mineral for multiple bodily organ functions, skin healing, and growth.
- Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B12)
- Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)
- Tocopherol (Vitamin E)
- Calcium carbonate (Calcium)- Also the chemical name for "TUMS," which is an antacid
- Ergocalciferol or cholecalciferol (Vitamin D)
- Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)
- Thiamin (Vitamin B1)
- Folic Acid- (Vitamin B9)
- Ferrous/Ferric (Iron)
- Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5)
- Biotin (Vitamin B7)
- Niacin (Vitamin B3)
- Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
Check out the example below of a common brand of peanut butter:
5. When in doubt, research it! I will admit it- deciphering a food label can be difficult. There are lots of times when I truly don't know what an ingredient is, but in those situations, I look it up. Like all of you, I also want to know what I am putting in my body! If you need good site recommendations, I would recommend the National Institutes of Health website, or the FDA website so that you can learn the true scientific facts about the ingredient.
If you have any more questions, I'd really appreciate them! Fill free to comment below or contact me via email!