Simplifying Labels

Hello all, I hope you are well!  Do not get caught up in labels.  To simplify labels, skip them and go to the ingredients list.  If the list is longer than just a few recognizable items, let it sit on the shelf in the grocery store.  Optimally one or two items on the ingredients list are what to look for.  This is of course after we have already spent 95% of our time shopping in the produce isle and stocked up for the week.

Ingredients list and Label reading

  • Strive for
    • Reduced or No salt added
    • No sugar added
    • No artificial flavorings
    • No preservatives
    • No added oils

Do not get overwhelmed with calculating servings, calories, nutrient percentages and daily values.  Be more vigilant in terms of trying to become well rounded in your plant-based nutritional intake (eat the rainbow in regards to fruits and vegetables).  Include fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds to your intake and you will have enough variety to meet human nutritional intake requirements.  The ingredients list should be extremely short, ideally only a single ingredient (example: wild rice).  Plants are prepackaged with nutrients, minerals, fats, amino acids and fiber.  There is no need to extrapolate a single entity (oil) from one plant and add it to another.  An example of this is a typical jar of peanut butter, look on the back ingredients list of a “popular” brand and most likely canola oil or palm oil is a part of the list.  Canola and/or palm oil do not exist in peanuts, only peanut oil.  The take-away here is to continue pursuing varied whole plant sources.

Below are some examples of what to look for.  A couple of them have salt, some things are nearly unavoidable when on a budget, however, let us take a look at the labels.  Top left are black beans with no salt added an easy pick-up over regular canned black beans, even better if you have time to buy and soak dry beans.  Top right we have canned pineapple in juice rather than syrup.  Once again if you have time to cut up fresh pineapple, that would be optimal.  Bottom left we have peanut butter without added oil, I wish there was not added salt, if you can afford to purchase organic peanut butter without any other additives that would be optimal.  Bottom right we have refried beans.  If you do not like refried beans from a can but want to consume them another way, cook beans and mash them with a potato masher.  When ingredients lists are carefully considered it is easier to make beneficial decisions.  If you like quick glances at labels search for the “no added” labels, but do not let that be your main check on whether the item is healthy or not, be mindful of the ingredients list.  A few simple changes can make a big difference in how you feel and function.  Feel free to contact me with any questions regarding labels and/or the ingredients list.

Cheers!

-Wheeler

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