Do you know how to read a food label? What should you be looking for? What about the Nutrition Facts? The Ingredients? The “added ____”?
Ingredients: Sugar, Glucose Syrup, Skimmed Milk Powder, Cocoa Butter, Cocoa Mass, Sunflower Oil, Milk Fat, Lactose and Protein from Whey (from Milk), Whey Powder (from Milk), Palm Fat, Fat Reduced Cocoa, Barley Malt Extract, Emulsifier (Soya Lecithin), Salt, Egg White Powder, Milk Protein, Natural Vanilla Extract
What are half these ingredients in this list for?
You may not believe it, but this is actually one of the most popular chocolate bars on the market. Why is this chocolate so complex?
A good rule of thumb for mystery ingredients, is that if you need to look it up, then it’s probably not good for you.
How do you navigate label reading without making your grocery trips 3 hours long?
Grocery shopping can be frustrating.
Between navigating the grocery aisles and the constant influx of new products invading grocery shelves, making the “healthiest” food choices is a daunting task. With some products boasting “20% less sodium” and other products that have “added omega 3s”, it’s hard to know what is good for you, and where even to start.
Reading the label itself can be helpful.
Companies use lots of health industry buzz words to lure you into buying their products, making you think you are choosing the healthier option, but that isn’t always the case.
The best way to go about shopping for packaged food is to be cautious of any claims. The only way to know for sure what it contains is to read the ingredients label.
Look for ingredients that you might find on your own shelf, and if you can’t pronounce the ingredient, it probably is not a good choice.
A General Rule
If the list of ingredients is a mile long and contains any words that you cannot pronounce, walk away.
Despite the “added antioxidants” that is written on the box, the contents are probably overly processed, preservative-laden, and devoid of nutrition – with the exception of a quick spray of antioxidants before packaging.
Next, look for specific ingredients such as refined sugar, including high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, like canola oil and palm oil, and then look at the actual amount of sugar, salt, trans-fats, and saturated fats is in each serving.
A Hidden Dash of Sugar
Sugar can hide under many different names, including dextrose, maltodextrin, corn syrup, cane sugar, maple syrup. Discover this list of 65 different types of sugar!
If you can remember that 5 grams is equivalent to 1 teaspoon, it will make navigating the nutrition label easier. You may be shocked to know how much sugar and salt you are actually eating!
Remember to look at what the Nutrition Facts define as a serving. Often what you will find is the serving size is far smaller than you may think. It won’t be the whole chip bag or cookie box, but rather 1/8 of it that equals the calories you think you’re getting from the whole thing! Sneaky!
The Best and Easiest tip to Avoiding Additives
Stick to the grocery store’s perimeter and focus on unprocessed, whole foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables. These are simply the best option with no additives, and no complicated labels to comb through.
Yes, packaged foods can be more convenient, but this sort of convenience comes with a price – a price you pay with your health.
The foundations of health are supported by a diet full of whole foods.
Like a luxury car, our bodies need the appropriate fuel. Without the proper fuel, the engine will burn out regardless of how well designed the car is.
Fresh fruits and vegetables, good sources of protein like wild-caught fish, organic chicken, grass-fed beef, free-range eggs, legumes, and whole grains like brown rice, are the “premium fuel” our bodies need to function at its best.
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