I came across this WebMD blog post today. It is about Greek Yogurt. I LOVE the stuff. I have fully eliminated sour cream from our diet and I have substituted it with plain non fat Greek yogurt.

So reading this blog about how some Greek yogurt is not as “healthy” as it appears to be caught my attention. She explains that she grabbed it on the go only to later realize it actually had saturated fat in it. This company jumped on the healthy Greek yogurt bandwagon, but really it wasn’t as healthy as many are.

Her point overall was excellent, READ THE NUTRITION LABEL. I spend a great deal of time reading labels and comparing items when I grocery shop. I have been doing this for a couple years. Companies can get away with certain branding on their packaging. Just because something claims to be a certain way, does not mean that it is good for you!

If I want to shop correctly, I cannot go with my hubby, because I DO spend so much time reading and comparing. He gets a tad impatient with me. However, I have noticed at home, that he now does that too if I switch something up. He even compared a strawberry Greek yogurt to the regular strawberry yogurt I used to buy for him. So at least I am rubbing off on him at home.

If something claims to be Low fat, light, reduced, etc I suggest reading the nutrition label and comparing it with its supposed unhealthy regular counterpart. Sometimes the light option will overall be a better choice. Sometimes the sodium amount skyrockets to give that reduced or light product some more flavor, so that it doesn’t totally suck. You have to consider what is important to you and your diet (by diet I mean eating lifestyle, not a “diet” program) Personally I prefer to eat a lower sodium diet. I also eat a lot of fiber. So for me two important elements are the sodium and fiber contents in products I consume. We are supposed to consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day. Most Americans consume much more than that. Many tasty foods have more than that in one serving! So paying attention to the label can be helpful.

Look for:

  • The serving size.
  • How many servings are in a package.
  • Calories per serving. The former point is important because even a small package of cookies can have “100 calories” but if there are 7 servings in the package and you eat the whole thing, you are consuming 700 calories. A little extreme of an example, but you get my point.
  • Calories from fat. Not all fats are unhealthy. Remember that. Trans fats are no good for you. But Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats have health benefits.
  • Sodium per serving.
  • Cholesterol per serving.
  • Sugar per serving.
  • The amount of nutrients in the product. Such as, fiber, vitamins, calcium, iron etc. The higher these amounts, the more nutritious the product is.
  • Ingredients, listed from most abundant to the least in the product. For example, a product can claim to be “whole grain” but there are degrees of whole grain. If you want to get the best benefits from whole grain, the first ingredient listed should be a whole grain flour, grain, etc. If the first ingredient is a refined flour product and there is a whole grain listed a few ingredients in, it really isn’t the most beneficial whole grain product. I think I will do another post on this some other time, a bit more in-depth.

An example from the FDA:

This was actually one of my favorite topics in my Nutrition class. It is such an easy thing to pick up and pay attention to. A very small step in a healthy lifestyle. It is one of the easiest ways to watch what you are eating. I wish that more people were aware of this very easy action. This is just a simple overview. I felt like sharing how important I think reading the nutrition label is. I wish more people were aware of how easy it is to integrate this healthy habit into their life. The FDA site I linked to offers a much more in depth explanation. They break it down well and I think it is easy to understand.

Happy healthy reading!