Label Reading: Part 3

I am teaching the third label reading session this week at The Resort. As discussed in my last two blog posts, these sessions involve examining a few different categories of foods to determine which products are healthier than others.

This week, we are looking at three categories of foods, including: 1) cereals, 2) mayonnaise, and 3) frozen treats. Below are some general tips of what to look for in these types of products.
1) Cereals:
  • Approximately 100-200 calorie range per serving
  • First ingredient a whole grain
  • At least 3 or more grams of fiber per serving
  • Less than 6 grams of sugar per serving (if the cereal has dried fruit, less than 12 grams of sugar per serving)
  • Avoid hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated, fractioned or modified oils
  • Avoid high fructose corn syrup or lots of added sugars
  • Avoid artificial additives, sweeteners, colors or flavors
Some examples of better cereal options could include: Regular or Multigrain Cheerios, plain Shredded Wheat, Wheat Chex, Bran Flakes, Cascadian Farms brand, some Kashi cereals, and Ezekiel brand.
2) Mayonnaise:
  • Look for healthy oils (canola, olive, flax, rapeseed)
  • Low fat options can be less calories
  • Be careful with fat free mayos, as these tend to have more sugars, chemical or artificial ingredients
  • Avoid high fructose corn syrup
Some examples of better mayonnaise options could include: Regular or reduced fat Vegenaise, reduced fat mayos made with olive oil or canola oil, and Spectrum Naturals Canola Mayonnaise.
3) Frozen Treats:
  • Look for shorter ingredients list (avoid long list of ingredients)
  • Look for products that have more natural ingredients rather than lots of chemicals or artificial ingredients
  • Treats sweetened with fruit or fruit juice can be better options
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose, etc.)
  • Low-fat options can be okay (can be lower in calories, but check to make sure they haven’t added a lot of extra sugar)
  • Low sugar products can sometimes be the same or more calories compared to regular products–also these will contain artificial sweeteners
Some examples of better options may include: Dreyer’s All Natural Fruit Bars, Stone Ridge Creamery Fruit Bars, different ice cream brands that use all natural ingredients (the calories will vary on these), Skinny Cow Low Fat Fudge Pops (Weight Watcher’s Fudge Bars are similar). Be careful on other Skinny Cow, Weight Watchers or other low-calorie frozen treats, as once you get more complex than a fudge bar, the ingredients lists get much longer and include more artificial ingredients.
Rachel Andrew MPH, RD, CD