If there’s one positive outcome of rising obesity levels in America, it’s that they’re encouraging consumers to finally start reading nutrition labels. But while just one episode of the Biggest Loser is enough to make almost anyone think twice about ice cream sundaes and bacon cheeseburgers – what about the lesser know causes of obesity, diabetes, liver disease and cancer? What about high fructose corn syrup, caramel coloring, and sodium based preservatives? There are a whole slew of potentially health-threatening ingredients out there that don’t show up in your average calorie count. Take maple syrup, for example. Pure maple syrup and table syrup have close to the same calorie count, but if you read the ingredient list – they couldn’t be more different. Pure Maple syrup contains a single ingredient – pure maple; table syrup contains more than 10 chemical and artificial ingredients, some of which have been linked to both obesity and diabetes in children and adults.
This type of nutrition label deception is more common than you might think. For instance, diet sodas, which are typically calorie- and sugar-free, are sweetened with artificial sugars containing aspartame, a chemical that has been linked to cancer. You won’t find sugar on the nutrition label, but you will find aspartame in the ingredient list – a place the average consumer neglects to look.
The bottom line is to pay attention. There’s more to nutrition than calories. So before you buy, check the label carefully, and make sure you understand the effects of all the ingredients. After all, if you are what you eat, you should know what you’re eating.