Use the Ingredient List and Learn to Make Healthier Food Choices {Healthy Living}

Learn to make healthier food choices by using the nutrition information, such as the Ingredient List, found on prepackaged foods.

~ This is an ingredient list from a bottle of mustard ~

Ingredient List

What is the ingredient list?

It is a list of all the ingredients in a food. The ingredients are listed in order of weight, from most to least. This means that the food contains more of the ingredients at the beginning of the list and less of the ingredients at the end of the list. Food companies have to put the ingredient list on packaged foods.

~ This ingredient list is from a box of cereal in my cupboard ~

Ingredient List

Where is the ingredient list found?

The ingredient list may be found anywhere on the food label. However, most of the time, it is close to the Nutrition Facts table.

How can you make a healthier choice?

The ingredient list can help you:

  • See if a food product has a specific ingredient.
  • Avoid certain ingredients in case of a food allergy or intolerance.

Helpful hints at the grocery store:

There may be some items on the ingredient list that you are not familiar with. Sometimes nutrients such as saturated and trans fats, sodium and sugar can appear on an ingredient list under many different names.

Here is a list of some of the other names for saturated and trans fats, sodium and sugar. To make a healthier choice, look at both the ingredient list and the Nutrition Facts table.

Nutrient Possible Ingredients
Saturated fat
  • Bacon
  • Beef fat
  • Butter
  • Chicken fat
  • Cocoa butter
  • Coconut or coconut oil
  • Hydrogenated fats and oils
  • Lard
  • Palm or palm kernel oil
  • Powdered whole milk solids
  • Shortening
  • Suet
  • Tallow
Trans fat
  • Hard margarine
  • Hydrogenated fats and oils
  • Partially hydrogenated fats and oils
  • Shortening
Sodium
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Brine
  • Celery salt
  • Disodium phosphate
  • Garlic salt
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Onion salt
  • Salt
  • Sodium alginate
  • Sodium benzoate
  • Sodium bisulfate
  • Sodium proprionate
  • Soy sauce
Sugars
  • Brown sugar
  • Cane juice extract
  • Corn syrup
  • Demerara or Turbinado sugar
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Fructose
  • Galactose
  • Glucose
  • Glucose-fructose
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Liquid sugar
  • Maltose
  • Molasses
  • Sucrose
  • Syrup
  • Treacle

Hint: Words ending in “ose” are likely sugars

Additional resources:

Information contained in this post was obtained from the Health Canada website.

Monica

Comments

  1. Great tips! I never used to pay much attention to ingredient labels until we found out my son has a peanut allergy. Now I read the label on everything!

  2. Thanks for this, trying to watch what I eat so this is very helpful

    • I know, me too! Every time I pick up a package now the first thing I do is look at the calories and fat content, often quite shocked at those numbers!

  3. My big thing for 2013 is to eliminate dyes and colors. It’s so unnecessary and has some terrible health consequences. I’m surprised how much “natural” foods have. What surprises me more is a lot of our foods (which I thought would), don’t :)

  4. AutoFill Jennifer Van Huss says:

    I love label reading. Very interesting to see what’s in your food. Having celiac disease I’m very happy to find out that they are now including may contain wheat or gluten on their labels.

    • Jennifer, yes having Celiac Disease would make it very important for you to know all of the ingredients in any pre-packaged food. Having the caution stating a product may contain wheat or gluten would certainly help in speeding up the search of ingredients!

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