How can I make healthier choices concerning packaged food?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
The best thing to do with packaged food is to avoid it. Cooking your own food means you have all the control over what and how much goes into it: salt, sugar, fat, etc. However, if you are going to eat packaged foods, look for a few things:
  1. Low sodium
  2. No trans fats
  3. As little saturated fat as possible
  4. 100% whole grains
  5. No high fructose corn syrup or other added sugars or syrups.
Dominique Adair
There are actually many more healthy packaged food options today than even a few years ago. To keep it simple, take a look at food labels for three things
  1. At least 3 grams of fiber (5g is even better)/serving
  2. Less than 2g saturated (heart unfriendly) fat/serving
  3. Less than 300mg sodium/serving. While sodium does not directly influence fat loss, evidence shows us that too much sodium can increase the risk for high blood pressure, which has a direct impact on heart disease. 
I’d also recommend a simple, easy, non-packaged food to round out the meal (piece of fruit, handful of bagged mixed greens w/ dressing; 10 baby carrots or pea pods) so that you are still getting fresh produce with the convenience of packaged food.
Michael T. Murray, ND
Naturopathic Medicine

Here are some guidelines for making healthier eating choices where packaged food is concerned:

  • Read the labels carefully. If sugar, fat, or salt is one of the first three ingredients listed, it is probably not a good option.
  • Be aware that certain words appearing on the label, such as sucrose, glucose, maltose, lactose, fructose, corn syrup, white grape juice concentrate, and evaporated cane juice, mean that sugar has been added.
  • Look not just at the percentage of calories from fat but also the number of grams of fat. For every five grams of fat in a serving, you are eating the equivalent of one teaspoon of fat.
  • If a snack doesn't provide at least two grams of fiber, it's not a good choice.
Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

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Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.