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If your goal is to eat clean to thrive, plant-based whole foods should make up the bulk of what you eat, as well as the meals you prepare. But for the times you do eat packaged food, it’s important to understand how to read a food label. Not just the typical Nutrition Facts panel though—because it’s the ingredients list that matters most.
Choosing Clean Packaged Foods
The ingredients are a far better indicator of whether or not a food is a clean choice, and the fewer ingredients the better. In both the US and Canada, ingredients on a food label must be listed in order of descending weight. If you wouldn’t eat or cook with ingredients in the top 90% of the list, it’s probably not a clean eating choice. Look for key words that indicate minimal or simple processing like:
Dried or dehydrated
Ground or powdered
If there is an ingredient you can’t pronounce, you probably shouldn’t eat it. Beware of label claims like “fat-free” which normally means the fat has been replaced by sugar or other things you don’t need. And avoid getting swayed by the serving size on a food label—defining the serving size is at the discretion of the manufacturer, so a smaller serving size is often used as a means to make a food seem healthier than it is.
Watch this video to learn how to read between the lines on food labels.
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