Food Sense   

Food Sense

Knowing what ingredients go into your food is important, especially if it is highly processed food. You will then know what you are really eating and be able to gauge if it’s healthy or not.

But first, you have to understand the ingredients listed for the product. Some ingredients are straightforward, like salt, tomatoes or sugar. But often, you will find that you need a dictionary or an encyclopedia to understand what the ingredients are. Citric acid? Monoglycerides? E129? Disodium Ionsinate? Guar Gum? What?

Rule of thumb is to avoid processed food that has more than five ingredients, or those that cannot be pronounced.

The harder it is to locate the list of ingredients on a product, the more important it is to read it.

It frequently appears that manufacturers are trying to hide the ingredients in packaged foods. They make it difficult to find the ingredients on the label, or to read them.

Ingredients are often hidden under a flap of packaging material in very tiny print. But the harder they are to find and read, usually, the more important it is that you read them.

If necessary, carry a small magnifying glass in your pocket or purse so you know exactly what is in a product before you decide to purchase it.

Farlow’s advice?

If the list of ingredients is long, there’s probably a lot of chemical additives in the product, and you’re risking your health by eating it.

To illustrate, we looked at the ingredients listed for two products. You decide which is safer to consume regularly.

Product A: Canned tomatoes

Ingredients: Tomatoes, tomato juice, sugar, salt, herbs, citric acid

Comment: Few ingredients, mostly understandable.

Translator: Citric acid is an organic acid found mostly in fruits and is used as a natural preservative or to add an acidic/sour taste in food/drinks.

Product B: Soup in a sachet

Ingredients: Potato starch, vegetable fat, dried glucose syrup, salt, whey powder, modified corn starch, maltodextrin, mushroom extract, sugar, dehydrated mushrooms, yeast extract, dehydrated parsley, artificial flavors, spice, citric acid.

Comment: Many ingredients. Not many are recognizable or understandable (even after checking what they mean) and many have gone through some chemical process.

Translator: Potato starch is extracted by crushing the potato so that the starch grains are released from the destroyed cells, washed out and then dried to powder form. Vegetable fat is vegetable oil; dried glucose syrup is a popular substitute for sugar. It is more commonly referred to as corn syrup because its main ingredient is usually cornstarch. Modified corn starch is chemically treated corn starch.

Maltodextrin, usually made from rice, corn or potato starch, is made by cooking the starch to break it down. The end result is a simple white powder that contains roughly four calories per gram, and extremely small amounts of fibre, fat, and protein.

Artificial flavors are chemically manufactured flavoring.


Happy reading,

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