Watch What You Eat Now, You’ll Thank Yourself Later

Be smart and know what you buy when you choose foods because even if a label makes certain claims it does not guarantee that it will be what it says.

Here are 7 common food claims you may come across

1. Low-fat
Companies process their products to remove the fat, but the problem is that much of the flavour is lost, too. This results in their trying to make them taste better by filling them with artificial sweeteners, sugar, flour and other thickeners.

So sometimes the label low-fat means that the fat has been reduced at the cost of adding extra sugar and filler ingredients-be very careful and read the ingredients list and if you read a long list of additives, leave it and look for something else that will be better for your health.

2. Low-calorie
Low-calorie products normally have to have one-third fewer calories than the normal brand’s original product but usually what they lack in calories they often make up for in artificial sweeteners.

Be aware too that one brand’s low-calorie version may have similar calories as another brand’s original version.

3. No added sugar
When the label reads ‘no added sugar’ it means that the product has been processed with no sugar or sugar-containing ingredients. However even though the food may not have been sweetened with sugar, they may not be sugar free. This is because they have a natural sugar in them-fruits and milk for instance.

4. Sugar free
This means that there is no sugar present in the product as the sugar is removed- this includes naturally occurring forms of sugar and any ingredient that contains sugar. Technically the food must contain less than 0.5 grams of sugar per serving to be labelled as “sugar free.”

Know that a product may not be completely free of sugar; as long as it meets the per-serving requirement and so may contain an artificial sweetener to enhance sweetness.

5. Multi-grain
This sounds very healthy but only means that a product contains more than one type of grain. These are most likely refined grains and so you are better off choosing a whole grain product.

Even when it is made from whole grains; the product may contain very little whole grains. Check the ingredients list — if whole grains aren’t in the first three ingredients this should signal to you that the amount is really negligible.

6. Fortified
To fortify food some nutrients are added to it. A common fortifier is vitamin D as it is NOT naturally present in many foods. Also another widely used fortifier is Vitamin B12 because it is generally NOT present in plant foods.

Most cereals in the shops contain added vitamin D, as do some brands of orange juice, milk and margarine. And many mealy-meal brands and breakfast cereals are fortified.

Just remember that fortified foods vary in formulation so read the Nutrition Facts labels on food products to determine the types and amounts of added nutrients they actually contain.

7. Fruit Juice
It takes a lot of fruit to produce a single glass of fruit juice and so unless you read the label or see the server juicing an actual fruit you will likely buy or be served a drink that may have very little fruit juice.

Be alert especially when you order or buy a freshly made juice cocktail as the juice maybe mixed with other things that may not be so good for you. Your drink, pretty as it looks, may contain a sugary soft drink, mixer and an additive for colour and the only fresh thing about it may be that it is freshly made!

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Kwachalelo, be successful, be well.

About Balekile Gausi

A prolific Zambian writer covering work, money and lifestyle that passed through university and came away with a very good grasp of public administration, finance management, money and banking and international relations. A civil servant that quickly opted for self-employment and training as a Journalist and Writer Balekile has been a freelance feature writer for several decades and has also published fiction in Drum and The BBC Focus on Africa Magazine. Settled and living in Lusaka after many years of living in several cities in Africa and Europe; Balekile is also an avid bird watcher, is married with 3 adult children and has an extraordinary fondness for chikanda ( the local delicatessen that vegans and non-vegans world-wide are putting on their bucket list!)

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