Are you a label-reading expert?

By Pamela Painter

Master Fitness Specialist


Please answer that question with a bold YES! Today more than ever it is important for you to be a label-reading expert. Every product that is packaged for your consumption these days has a nutritional value label on it. Every product also has a list of ingredients on the package.

The label and ingredient information is mandated by the Federal Drug Administration, better known as the FDA. The FDA is "supposed" to be watching out for our health and welfare, right?

Don't bet the farm on it-the big food giants are so far in the FDA's pocket, if it weren't so tragic it would be funny. Wow, that was a really bold statement wasn't it?

I will let you decide how bold of a statement that is.

First, let me explain what has me all fired up. Trans Fats or partially hydrogenated oil, that's what. The "H" bomb, as I so fondly call these altered fats, are in almost everything you eat that's packaged. They are also in just about everything you eat if you eat out. These Trans-fats are in cookies, chips, crackers, processed meats, candy, cakes and cake mixes, etc. In short, just about everything in the middle aisles of your grocery store that has a shelf life will probably have partially hydrogenated oil or shortening or both as a part of the ingredients.

So, what's the big deal?

The FDA recently mandated to the big food giants that trans-fats must be listed on the package of any thing that has partially hydrogenated oil in the product by 2004. This was mandated for pet food much earlier. Many studies and researches have deemed the consumption of trans-fats as unsafe and harmful for humans as well as our pets.

Reputable studies done by the Harvard School of Medicine, among many others, conclude that no level is safe for consumption. This is because research has shown that the consumption of trans- fats are directly linked to major clogging of the arteries, significantly lowering the HDL "good" cholesterol while increasing the LDL "bad" cholesterol.

Plus, the consumption of trans-fats has also been directly linked to the development of Type 2 or adult on-set diabetes. I personally believe this is why not only are we, as a nation, so fat and unhealthy, but it is one of the reasons why our precious children are not only overweight and unhealthy but are developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases among other usually adult onset diseases.

Sooooo, instead of banning the use of trans-fats in our products after the stunning conclusion of the studies, the FDA mandated that if a product contains .5 grams or less of the "H" bomb the packaging can be labeled trans-fat free. This is perfect for the food giants since now they can still use the cheap poison in the preparation of their foods and deceive consumers. That includes YOU!

Wheat Thins is a perfect example. Wheat Thins now comes in a box of individual wrapped bags advertising 100 calories and zero trans-fats. They can do that because each little bag contains less than .5 grams of the "H" bomb. But if you read the label, partially hydrogenated cotton oil is an ingredient. If every company is successful at manipulating you and you eat 3 different products that claim this, at the end of the day your arteries will be just as clogged with this poison.

But not if you are a Label Reading Expert! Read the label of every product you buy and if it contains partially hydrogenated oil of any sort, DON'T BUY IT! Read the labels of the foods in your pantry and if they contain this ingredient, THROW IT AWAY! Do not expect anyone, not the government, not even your doctor to keep you healthy. That, my friends, is up to you.

By sticking to the basic food groups (you know the ones), the foods provided to us by nature, and staying away from the man-made foods, and being a LABEL READING EXPERT, you will be much healthier. And that is something to really be bold about!


Pamela's radio program, "Health and Fitness Matters," is on from 1-2 p.m. Saturdays on AM 630 KSLR. The toll-free call-in number is 877-630-KSLR (5757). Questions or comments can also be sent to her Website at

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