By Akemi Liyanage. Photos by Esther Olukayode.
On the surface, a can of apple juice seems healthy. After all, its cover boasts of high vitamin c content, has images of bright red apples and a promise that it’s made of real fruit.
But look at the nutrition facts, says fourth-year nursing student Niranka De Lanerolle and you’ll find that the healthy glow may just wear off.
De Lanerolle conducted the first of two nutrition workshops hosted by the Ryerson Health Promotion department this semester on Monday. It focused on how to read and take apart nutrition labels to decide whether or not a food item is actually healthy.
“They see whole wheat and they think it’s fine. They don’t take the time to analyze them,” she says. According to De Lanerolle, it’s not enough to know that a food item has a healthy ingredient-it’s just as important to know how much of it is actually in each serving.
Take fibre for example. A box of snack bars can state that it’s a good source of healthy fibre, but if it compromises of 5% or less of daily fibre intake and a load of sugar and fat, it can do more harm than help to your body.
The workshop also visualized the amount of sugar in popular drinks by manually measuring out sugar in grams. What may seem like a small number-50g for example-is actually a lot to consume in one drink, especially because sugar is already present in fruits and vegetables.
Another hidden danger is the discrepancy between the serving size and the amount consumed. A half cup of popcorn may have only 5 g of transfat, but if you eat two full cups, that’s 20 g of transfat in total.
All in all, learning to decode and understand nutrition facts and ingredients lists is a critical skill to preserve our health. “If you’re going to eat it, why not take a second to read the food label?” says De Lanerolle.
The next nutrition workshop will take place next Monday on November 24th in the Shadd Room in the RSU building, from 11-12 pm. It’ll involve cooking! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot today.