Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Cryptic Food Packaging? Nobody's Got Time For That?

Food Labels, Demystified.....Cryptic food packaging?  Nobody's got time for that.  I do my best to eat healthy, but sometimes it is so hard to figure out what the food labels are trying to tell me!  Here, what some of those health-food terms really mean, so you can move on the next isle already. 

Cage-free or free-range - The chickens were raised un caged inside or outdoors.  Sounds good, but neither guarantees that the birds actually went or were fed a diet free of pesticides and antibiotics.  (Pesticides have been linked to cancer, while antibiotics can contribute to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.)  For that, buy poultry and eggs labeled as "USDA Organic,"  I am lucky enough to have friends that raises range-free chickens that are also fed a diet free of pesticides and antibiotics. 

Sprouted - This label is used for grains, legumes and seeds that have been left in a warm, moist setting until they literally start to sprout little tails.  they tend to be easier to digest and are higher in some nutrients such as vitamin C.  You can throw sprouted beans in a salad for extra protein.  Another option is make a fast, fiber packed side for dinner by tossing sprouted whole grains with olive oil, lemon juice, nuts and parsley.  YUM!

No added Nitrates or Nitrites - Most Nitrate and nitrite free processed meats are free of synthetic versions of the chemical preservatives , but not the naturally derived ones that come from celery, salt or powder.  Since high levels of either my be linked to cancer, bacon and deli slices shouldn't be on your menu everyday.  When they are reach for meats with no added nitrates or nitrites. 

Hope this helps clarify just some of the very many confusing food labels you see and feel more confident in making better food choices.  It can be a lot to remember, at least for me. There are many other confusing words and phrases that I try to keep straight.  What I do is wright them all down. That way when I go shopping I can pull out my list and I won't be struggling to remember what is "good" and what is "bad."  Plus it will save time! 

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