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The Ingredients List: determining what to eat

September 19, 2011

How do you figure out what to eat?  One major indicator for me it is what is listed on the ingredient list at the end of the nutrition label.  Take a peak next time you are trying to figure out if something is “healthy” or “not.”

  1. Can I identify everything on the ingredient list?
  2. Can I pronounce everything on the ingredient list?
  3. What are the first three ingredients?

If you can identify and pronounce all items in the the ingredient list, it’s most likely a reasonably healthy food.  This rule does not apply to chemists!

If “soy bean oil” and “high fructose corn syrup” are not within the first three ingredients, and you can identify and pronounce all three first ingredients, then I say go for it.

Let’s compare a Dunkin’ Donuts Blueberry Muffin to the ingredients from a muffin recipe on Le Bus Bakery’s website.

Dunkin’ Donuts:

Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron as Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamin Mononitrate, Enzyme, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Sugar, Blueberries, Water, Eggs, Soybean Oil, Contains less than 2% of the following: High Fructose Corn Syrup, Leavening (Baking Soda, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Aluminum Sulfate), Modified Corn Starch, Soy Protein Isolate, Salt, Whey (a milk derivative), Mono and Diglycerides, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Sorbitan Monostearate, Polysorbate 60, Gelatinized Wheat Starch, Natural Vanilla Flavor, Propylene Glycol; Topping: Sugar.
Recipe from Le Bus:
Unbleached flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, rolled oats, chocolate chips, eggs, vegetable oil, orange juice concentrate, buttermilk, evaporated milk
The ingredients that are bolded are the ingredients that break the suggested guidelines.
Putting this aside, consider the number of ingredients!  Give your food some thought before you make the purchase. Your health will thank you.  I promise.
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