Navigating The Supermarket

Have you ever taken the time to look at the ingredients list of the food you’re purchasing in the supermarket? If you’re like most people I know you might not look at the ingredients list but the nutritional facts of the food, focusing on the number of calories or grams of fat a certain product may have. The truth of the matter is that it’s not the number of calories or grams of fat that a product has that’s important but the quality of those fats and calories that important. Let me define quality a bit further for some individuals. By quality I mean how readily the nutrients are broken down, digested and used by our bodies.

If you concentrate only one the nutritional facts of food rather than the ingredients list, than you might find that the healthier, organic foods may have more calories or fats in them versus their brand name, processed food counter-part. The organic food however can be broken down and utilized by our bodies easily, resulting in little to no side-effects (like gas, bloating, or headaches), leaving us feeling satiated and full while eating less. The brand-name processed food counter-part typically contains ingredients that are hard for our bodies to digest, and often cause us to eat more than necessary.

To make this comparison easier, lets compare some food items – a brand name product, versus an organic product. Kettle Brand® Organic Sea Salt Potato Chips vs. Pringles® Original Potato Chips, Pringles® Reduced Fat Original Potato Chips, and Pringles® Light Original Potato Chips (fat free).

Pringles® Nutritional Information:

Serving Size 1 Ounce (28 g, approx.. 16 crisps)

Amount Per Serving

Calories                                150
Calories from Fat              90

% Daily

Total Fat                               9g           15%
Saturated Fat                     2.5g        14%
Trans Fat                              0g
Polyunsaturated Fat       4.5g
Monounsaturated Fat   2g
Cholestrol                           0mg       0%
Sodium                                 150mg   6%
Total Carbohydrate         15g         5%
Dietary Fiber                      1g           4%
Sugars                                   1g
Protein                                 1g
Vitamin A                            0%
Vitamin C                             6%
Calcium                                0%
Iron                                        0%

Ingredients: Dried Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (contains on or more of the following: corn oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, and/or sunflower oil), corn flour, wheat starch, maltodextrin, salt, rice flour and dextrose.

Kettle Brand® Nutritional Information:

Serving Size 1 Ounce about 13 chips (28g)

Amount Per Serving

Calories                                150
Calories from Fat              80

% Daily

Total Fat                               9g           14%
Saturated Fat                     1g           5%
Trans Fat                              0g           0%
Polyunsaturated Fat       1g
Monounsaturated Fat   7g
Cholesterol                         0mg       0%
Sodium                                 115mg   5%
Potassium                           430mg   12%
Total Carbohydrate         16g         5%
Dietary Fiber                      1g           4%
Sugars                                   0g
Protein                                 2g
Vitamin A                            0%
Vitamin C                             10%
Calcium                                0%
Iron                                        2%

Ingredients: Organic Potatoes, organic vegetable oil (safflower and/or sunflower oil), sea salt.

Pringles® Reduced Fat Nutritional Information:

Serving Size 1 Ounce (28 g, approx.. 16 crisps)

Amount Per Serving

Calories                                130
Calories from Fat              60

% Daily

Total Fat                               7g           10%
Saturated Fat                     2g           10%
Trans Fat                              0g
Cholestrol                           0mg       0%
Sodium                                 135mg   6%
Total Carbohydrate         17g         6%
Dietary Fiber                      1g           4%
Sugars                                   1g
Protein                                 1g
Vitamin A                            0%
Vitamin C                             6%
Calcium                                0%
Iron                                        0%

Ingredients: Dried Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (contains on or more of the following: corn oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, and/or sunflower oil), wheat starch, maltodextrin, rice flour, salt and dextrose.

Pringles® Light Nutritional Information:

Serving Size 1 Ounce (28 g, approx.. 15 crisps)

Amount Per Serving

Calories                                70
Calories from Fat              0

% Daily

Total Fat                               0g           0%
Saturated Fat                     0g           0%
Trans Fat                              0g
Cholestrol                           0mg       0%
Sodium                                 160mg   7%
Total Carbohydrate         15g         5%
Dietary Fiber                      1g           4%
Sugars                                   1g
Protein                                 1g
Vitamin C                             10%

Ingredients: Dried Potatoes,Olestra (Olean brand), Modified Cornstartch, Maltodextrin and Rice Flour. Contains 2% or less of: salt, dextrose, polyglycerol esters*, mono- and diglycerides*, alpha-tocopherol acetate** (vitamin E), tocopherols (to protect flavor), vitamin A palmitate**, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), vitamin K** and vitamin D**.*Adds a trivial amount of fat.**Dietarily insignificant.

Now to the individual who is only looking at the nutritional information, the reduced fat or the light Pringles would sound appealing. However look at the ingredients list. As the company reduces the number of calories and total fat of the potato chips you’re also increasing the number of ingredients. What’s interesting to observe is the difference between the original Pringles versus the Kettle organic portato chips. Nutritionally the two are very similar, but the ingredients list of the kettle chips is significantly easier to read than the Pringles’ ingredients list.

An easy way to go grocery shopping is to follow this simple rule: if you can’t pronounce it, or don’t know what an ingredient is, don’t buy it. For instance would you ask someone at the dinner table to pass you the maltodextrin? If you don’t know what it is, or can’t easily read the ingredient, do you think your body knows how to digest it? Or do you know if the ingredient is even good for your body? How do you know if that ingredient isn’t poisonous for our bodies, or isn’t highly addictive? The truth is you don’t.

So remember when going shopping for food, keep it simple! Look at the ingredients, not the nutritional facts because in the end it’s the quality of the food you eat that’s important, not the quantity of calories or fats.

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