Do you know what you are eating whenever you eat a trail mix bar or drink all natural 100% fruit juice? What about sugar free syrup or fat free salad dressing? Time and time again, I hear people who say that they are “watching what they eat”, but yet they eat foods with ingredients that are full of high fructose corn syrup, artificial preservatives, food colors/dye, etc. I think that people focus so much on the nutrition facts—which are important—that they do not focus on the ingredients found in the products.
Let’s take a test. Based on the following main ingredients, guess what product contains these (answers at the end):
- High fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, strawberry puree concentrate, glycerin, sugar, modified corn starch, sodium citrate, citric acid, sodium alginate, malic acid, Red #40, wheat flour, etc.
- Partially hydrogenated soybean and cotton seed oils, caramel color, corn seed oils, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, glycerin, artificial flavors, BHT, citric acid, etc.
Now, I don’t know about you, but initially I didn’t know what many of these ingredients were, let alone what they did for the body! So, after really studying many of these ingredients for my clients, I learned some frightening things such as the purpose of hydrogenated oil.
Hydrogenated oil is an ingredient that is commonly found in many of the popular foods on the market. It is unsaturated fat that is processed to make it more saturated and solid at room temperature and is used to make products last longer.1 Hydrogenated oil has a direct impact on the amount of Trans fatty acids found in foods, which raises your LDL (bad cholesterol) levels and lowers your HDL (good cholesterol) levels. Sometimes you may see a zero listed for Trans fat on the nutrition facts label, but also see hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils listed in the ingredients.
Why is zero listed on the label and not the actual number? Well, because of rounding, a product with 0.5 Trans fat is allowed (by Federal government) to be listed as “0 Trans fat” on the nutrition facts label! So, please be careful and pay attention to BOTH the Nutrition Facts label and the ingredients list before purchasing your food and drinks; then you will know if the product is really healthy!
ANSWERS: 1. General Mills Fiber One Bars, 2. Quaker Chewy Bars with Peanut Butter and Chocolate
Duyff, Roberta Larson. Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2006.