Have you ever strolled through the supermarket aisles and filled your shopping carts with food that looked good, but ended up being less healthy once you read the nutritional label?

 

 

Packaging and advertising can be very misleading. Foods that say low fat or low sugar may actually be less healthy than you'd expect. The FDA guidelines on labeling food allow for some wiggle room, which the manufacturers take full advantage of. Just because a food looks healthy, doesn't mean it is.

 

The only way to know for sure what you're putting into your body is to read the nutritional label. The FDA has strict guidelines on nutritional labeling, so the information on the label is as accurate as it gets. It's smart to read the labels to see what sort of nutrients (good and bad) you're ingesting.

 

According to a new study, reading nutritional labels is going to make you a healthier person. A team of researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign analyzed the quality of the lunches consumed by students. The students built their own meals in the self-serve dining environment, and the researchers documented the selection of food, serving size, and food consumption of the students.

 

They found that food consumption remained unchanged between the two groups. Those who read the nutritional labels on the food ate the same quantity of food as those who didn't. However, the nutritional label readers ate higher quality food than non-nutritional label readers.

 

Those who read the labels ate more beans, vegetables, and fruits, consuming fewer refined grains and potatoes. Not only that, but they were less likely to choose foods that were fried or that had added sugar. On the flip side, those who didn't read nutritional labels ate the empty carbs and fewer healthy, high fiber foods. They were also more likely to eat sugary and fried foods.

 

Reading labels doesn't make you eat any less food, but it will help to improve the quality of what you eat. Being informed about what you're putting into your body is an important part of making smart food choices.

 

The study noted, "Previous research has focused on portion control for weight loss or weight management, generally eating less. But, more recent research indicates this may not be the most effective message. By eating less, consumers may feel deprived, or even "hangry," which can make it difficult to sustain long-term dietary behaviors. Newer research indicates that eating less of certain types of foods, rather than all foods, may matter more."

 

Reference:

1.Mary J. Christoph, Brenna Ellison. "A Cross-Sectional Study of the Relationship between Nutrition Label Use and Food Selection, Servings, and Consumption in a University Dining Setting." Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2017. 

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