How To Read Ingredients List on Packaged Foods

reading food labels

Do you pay attention to the ingredient list when purchasing packaged foods?

If you’re not into the habit of checking the ingredient list before tossing an item into your shopping basket, then I’d highly recommend you try it.

Reading labels will help you make informed decisions on which products to buy, especially if you wish to get control over the food that you eat.

For instance, let’s compare two jars of peanut butter that I recently saw at a grocery store:

When reading the ingredient list on the first jar, I saw it contained icing sugar. That’s not something I’d expect to see in a jar of peanut butter.

It also had maltodextrin, which is a food additive used to produce a smooth texture feeling in your mouth. It can also be used to extend a product’s shelf life. There was also a minimal amount of hydrogenated vegetable oil, which is a trans-fat used to enhance taste and texture and proven not to be good for us in large quantities.

I would never have known this if I hadn’t read the ingredient list. These three ingredients: hydrogenated vegetable oil, maltodextrin and icing sugar are all products I’d prefer not to eat. The other jar of peanut butter listed only peanuts on the ingredient list, which is the one I bought.

This is an excellent example of why it’s helpful to read the ingredient lists on the products you buy from the grocery store. I suggest staying away from food products that have confusing ingredients.

For instance, in a small package of crackers I was thinking of purchasing, it listed the following ingredients: monosodium glutamate (MSG), hydrolyzed soy and wheat protein, disodium guanylate, amylase proteases and sulphites. These are all items I don’t want to eat and would never use in my own home cooking or baking, which is why I didn’t purchase them.

reading ingredients list on packaged foods

When looking at the list of ingredients, know that they are listed in order of weight. That means the first item listed is generally what’s in the product the most.

Reading food labels does takes a bit of time and getting used to. But don’t despair - once you’ve got into the habit, it gets faster. And the good thing is, you’ll shop with confidence, knowing you’re choosing the healthiest products you can for you and your family