Read between the lines

Apr 27, 2014, 10:50 IST | Deepali Dhingra

Your favourite healthy snack might actually contain a number of hidden calories. Here’s how you can read the ingredients list on packaged food items and avoid getting fooled 

The extra few kilograms on the weighing machine have been bothering you. Off you go marching to the supermarket and pick up packaged food items that promise to put you on the healthy track. But you will find that some of these so-called nutritious foods serve just the opposite purpose. Shraddha Gadit, nutrition lecturer at Gold’s Gym Fitness Institute, says, that it is very important to read the ingredients list on the packet before buying it. “The ingredients are listed in decreasing order, so the first item on the list is the major component in the food,” she says. Here’s how you can detect those hidden calories and be a smart (and healthier) shopper:

Whole wheat breads: When the first item on the ingredients list of your whole wheat bread reads ‘wheat flour’, it means that it is mainly made up of maida. Shonali Sabherwal, a macrobiotic nutritionist says that the list should read ‘100 per cent whole wheat’. “Most breads are fermented in sugar, so you should make sure that there is no sugar in the bread,” she adds.

Breakfast cereals: Almost all breakfast cereals contain some amount of sugar. Corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, malt syrup are names that companies use instead of sugar.

Biscuits: Biscuits that promise to be high in fibre might not actually be so. “The biscuit packet should contain at least 2.5 to 4.9 gms of fibre, only then can you say it’s a good source of fibre. Anything less than that, means the biscuit company is fooling you,” says Gadit.

Baked chips: “Watch out for the sodium content on the packet,” warns Sabherwal. Usually, to make the snacks tasty, companies add more salt to the chips and this can lead to high blood pressure and heart-related ailments
as well.

Fruit juices: Opting for canned fruit juices might seem like a healthy option, but the sugar intake is still very high. Drink fresh fruit juice or choose canned juice with the lowest sugar content.

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