Why reading a food label is important?

Have you ever cared to read a food label? Or do you just trust the brand and check the pricing?

Well, you should read a food label because you can find tons of information about that particular product through it.

First, let’s understand what a food label is and what info we can find through it.

A food label

is the amount of information written on any product. It tells about what ingredients are used in that product, how it is made and what is the nutritional value of that product.

Basically, a food label could be your guide to awareness.

Generally, people trust a product just by its name or popularity, but they are potentially buying something that could be perilous for them. So, it’s the right thing to read every detail mentioned on the food label.

With this blog, I aim to throw some light on the things that are mentioned in food products that may go unnoticed.

The contents

First and foremost we should focus on the content. What are the things that are used to make that particular product? Generally, some products claim that they are made of milk, and when we read the label, we find a tiny mention of milk. So reading a label can tell you about the authenticity of products.

With this, we can also know about the freshness of the product.

The nutritional value

Now, this is something very important and people ignore this the most

In nutritional value, our first aim should be seeing the serving size. Serving size tells you about how much quantity is okay for you to eat at once. It also tells about what “additional” things you have with it.

By additional things I meant, sugar, sodium, carbs, and other things in that food product. Let’s understand it better with the pics I’ve gathered for you:

First, let’s look at the energy mentioned in these

> Energy means calories and on average, a human being needs 1600- 2000 calories (normal lifestyle). From 100 gm of this chocolate and 100 gm of Nutella, we are getting over 532+ calories. That means if you eat 1 whole chocolate, you are almost getting 25% of your daily requirement.

2 spoons of Nutella contain 200 calories.

Please note-Amount of calories required by a person depends on various factors like their lifestyle, age, gender, height, weight. Sometimes people may need more than 3000 calories which is normal for them. Consult an expert regarding this

FGW

> Next, I want to highlight carbohydrates in such products. Normally, 45-60% of calories intake should come from carbs (complex carbs). For example, if you have 2000 calories a day, 225-325 gm should be carbs.

These products include a lot of carbs in them. So make sure you are not eating too much of them. Like the Oreo biscuits, contains a lot of carbs.

> But, the most alarming thing I see in these products is Sugar. We should always be very wise while picking products because indirectly we are eating extra sugar.

According to American Heart Association, We need 24-35 gm of sugar per day. As you can see these products are way beyond those levels.

You will see Total sugar and added sugar, which means a product contains a specific amount of total sugar, and added sugar means the sugar is added to it artificially. Consider Total sugar for less confusion and look out for the serving size.

If the product is of 300 gm and the nutrient value is based on 100 gm, then we are eating 3 times the shown value.

Eating extra sugar could invite heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, dental cavities, and more.

> You cannot ignore the fats mentioned in these. By fats, they generally mean saturated fats, which are not the healthiest of them all.

This oil contains significantly high amounts of fat.

Again for a 2000 calories diet, we can have around 44-77 gm of fat per day. All the products I’ve shown are high in fats.

Let’s look for something that is very common, especially in the Indian market.

Before I talk about how much sodium 100 gm of Maggi has, I want to talk about how much sodium we need daily.

We need around 1500- 2300 mg of sodium a day (according to AHA). When we eat more than this, it could lead to stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, and more.

Now, look back to this pack of Maggi noodles. It contains 1028 mg sodium in 100 gm. Then sometimes we add extra stuff for flavor and hence we are increasing the sodium consumption.

Not only Maggi, but all the other products that I’ve mentioned or any other product you see in the market contains some sodium, and we need to look out for that.

> Another sneaky thing is cholesterol, which is often not even mentioned in many food products. Consuming >300 mg of cholesterol is considered safe.

Other things you need to look out for

> Vitamins, minerals, and protein are other important things you need to look out for.

This is baby food and the nutrient babies needs is a lot less than adults. Make sure you choose wisely.

> If you’re buying anything with the name of a certain nutrient, then make sure the product has that thing in a sufficient number. For example, this protein bar has considerably less quantity of protein.

This cannot certainly replace breakfast

> 2 Similar products of different brands also use 2 completely different things in their products. Like, most ice cream makers in India use Edible vegetable oil, and they don’t reveal which oil do they use.

While Amul uses coconut oil. Both Vegetable oil and coconut oil are harmful if taken in higher quantities. Ice-creams are significantly higher in calories, cholesterol, carbs, and saturated fats. Make sure you eat in limited quantities.

> Many food products also contain nuts and other things to which people are allergic, you need to be careful about them as such things are easy to miss.

> The process of how the particular product is made should also be a point to check. Certain products use certain things to increase the shelf life, but it also decreases the quality of the product.

Fancy names

Many companies use typical names of ingredients to baffle the consumer

> Like Malt sugar, date sugar, corn syrup, malt syrup, rice syrup, maple syrup, etc. These are fancy names for sugar. It harms you as much as sugar is harming you.

> The term “Natural” is used in many products to attract consumers. But, this doesn’t mean that only natural ingredients are used and no artificial thing is added.

It’s commonly used by packed fruit juice

> Beware of products that say low fat and low sugar. They could be high in other things.

Generally, biscuits, chocolates, snacks, and diet sodas use this gimmick. But, they are still high in sodium, carbs, calories, and cholesterol.

Sugar-free products still have artificial sweeteners, and they are doing you no good at all.

> Food is also labeled as fortified. This means additional nutrients are added to it. But, this could also mean additional sugar and artificial ingredients are added as well.

You can see this word on milk, but check out its label.

> The word “Organic” is used shamelessly to make products more expensive. People think that it’s more healthy, but that’s not true always.

Veggies and fruits are sold with this label more often.

> “Gluten-free” should be used for products that have no gluten, which is found in certain grains. But, nowadays every other brand uses it under their products. They may or may not be gluten-free.

Cutting on gluten without medical advice is neither smart nor suggestible.

> Whole grains are also mentioned in many products, but you need to see if those products contain refined grains. Refined grains are less nutritious and contain fewer proteins, fibers, vitamins, and minerals.

> Trans fat which is the worst kind of fat is often furtively fed to us. “Partially hydrogenated oils” or “PHOs,” “hydrogenated vegetable oils,” and “shortening” are some of their names.

What to do?

You need eagle eyes, to hunt down products that are best for you. I cannot recommend any product because I don’t want to spread lies in the name of the trust.

Good and healthy products are available in the market. What I’ve seen is that such products are not easily available and are a bit pricey as compared to other products. This is why people generally stick to popular brands.

Look out for products and compare them. I’m sure you can find the good stuff.


This is the end of the blog and let me tell you this blog took me 7 months to write it. The reason for that is, I never cared to write about it until now, and I never felt a strong connection with this topic until this point. I suddenly got an idea to work on this, and I am working on this for 2 weeks.

If you have any doubt about this, then let me know in the comments, or let me know about your favorite food products.

Do you still buy food products, seeing the pricing and brand name? Well, now you know why you need to reconsider this habit.

Until next time SHINE *\0/*

Some other super useful blogs by FGW

92 responses to “Why reading a food label is important?”

  1. Learning to read labels is crucial to health, especially for those dealing with food sensitivities. It’s amazing to me how many people never even look at the ingredients and frustrating to me that manufacturers can hide nasty ingredients under so many different names.

  2. My daughter was finally diagnosed with Celiac disease, after struggling with severe digestive issues for her whole life. She has been doing a lot of research, and has found that gluten finds its way into the unlikeliest products, many times in the form of preservatives and sugars, which originate from wheat products. This has been a big learning curve for both of us to read labels for these culprits!

  3. I think in this age when almost all food products pride themselves on quality, they should refrain from using health as a marketing strategy. The words like, ‘gluten-free’, ‘immunity’, and so many other words are used to sell their products. The branded companies shouldn’t make false claims and strict actions should be taken against them.

  4. When I developed a range of allergies suddenly about 20 years ago, I had to start reading labels. Some of the allergies/intollerances have gone but because I still have a hazelnut allergy, I have to be careful. Its surprising what turns up sometimes

      • Things are great DU. In this country there is a legal requirement to list allergens and clearly identify them. I think a couple of court cases brought it to the fore here

  5. I don’t always read the labels, ideally I make food myself or just trust the brand. I agree with you it’s important to know what we are consuming, we have to be picky. I am sad that a lot of ‘organic’ foods are not always the best if you read the contents. So, be on top of it, and try to make everything from scratch, which is not a very realistic but still great goal for us, consumers

    • Well making everything from scratch is not possible.
      Like we would need things like salt, sugar, milk etc
      And seeing how they are made is must in that case.

      Yes, oraganic food are not organic most of the time. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ

      Consumers needs to be very careful

  6. Thanks for your work on this important topic. I have a gluten allergy and so does our child. So I read every food label of every product and have found many alternatives to wheat. We have food sensitivities to nightshade plants (tomato, potato, bell pepper, hot pepper, eggplant) and cow’s milk as well.

    • You don’t have to worry about remembering the names!

      Any fancy names, or something that is hard to understand is suspicious.

      The sugar are mentioned with different names so that companies can evade suspicions

  7. I never buy something without reading the packaging. Ever. My parents taught me to read it no matter what I buy just to make sure it’s the best option.

  8. My family members have diabetes and high cholesterol so I always look for the Nutritional Value. Itโ€™s absolutely crucial because I have health anxiety. I always avoid foods with trans fats especially. My mom always raised me to look at ingredients no matter if itโ€™s foods or not! I also look to see what I can and canโ€™t eat and manage since Iโ€™m trying to lose weight.๐Ÿ˜‚

    If Iโ€™m gonna go out, I donโ€™t want it to be health issues.

  9. Thank you for sharing what you have learned, you are helping so many of us with your blog posts. I have been reading food labels for many years now, you would be surprised the scary ingredients in many of the food products in the United States

  10. Thank you for all of the invaluable information. I didn’t realize until probably a good 10 years ago or so how I should really pay much more attention to what’s in the ingredients of items.

    All foods are not equal in that they could be the same food but manufactured /processed differently.

    I try to stay away from items that have ingredients with a very long list or have words I can’t pronounce or don’t understand what they mean.

    The fewer ingredients, the better generally speaking.

  11. Spot on, Devang! This is a well researched post. I have seen the ingredients in energy drinks the major portion in which is of sugar. This is precisely the reason why we are prone to diseases despite taking cares like drinking mineral or RO water. It’s better to go to basic, homemade food like khichdi, dal, green vegetables etc.

  12. Thank you for providing this information and breaking down the various ingredients! I try to read the nutritional labels for most things when I’m shopping, but it’s very confusing. I don’t know what is a healthy amount of sugar or sodium, like for a jar of tomato sauce. So I just pick the one with the lower sodium number. If the sodium is low, then the sugar is high.
    Once again, thanks for the work you put into this post!

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