Want to Get Real With Your Food? Your Guide To Reading Ingredient Labels

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In a world of ultra-confusing ingredient labels, we’ve become desperate for a guide to reading ingredient labels. We’ve found it thanks to Kashi!

Kashi’s making it easy. Here’s a handy Kashi Ingredient Decoder to help you figure out what’s real when reading ingredient labels. They indicated which ingredients they’d use at Kashi and which ones they’d avoid to help you keep your own food real.

  • ACACIA GUM – THUMBS UP
    (also known as GUM ARABIC and GUAR GUM):

    This natural ingredient is made from the hardened sap of the acacia tree; it helps stick stuff together and adds important fiber.

  • ASPARTAME: THUMBS DOWN 

    This artificial sweetener that’s commonly used in diet soft drinks and chewing gum is 180 times sweeter than sugar.

  • BLEACHED FLOUR: THUMBS DOWN 

    After it’s milled and bleached white with chemicals like chlorine, this baking flour loses many of its original whole-grain nutrients.

  • BUTYLATED HYDROXYANISOLE (BHA): THUMBS DOWN 

    This chemical is added to foods to preserve fats and keep them from turning rancid.

  • BUTYLATED HYDROXYTOLUENE (BHT): THUMBS DOWN 

    This chemical is used as a preservative in cereals and snack foods.

  • CALCIUM PEROXIDE: THUMBS DOWN 

    This agent is used to bleach flour and improve dough strength, grain, and texture.

  • CASEIN: (also known as Sodium Caseinate): THUMBS UP

    This dairy protein can help hold different foods together.

  • CHICORY ROOT FIBER: THUMBS UP

    This is used to hold different ingredients together and also contains the naturally occurring fiber inulin.

  • CANE SYRUP: THUMBS UP

    A minimally processed sugar, this amber-colored liquid retains a slight golden color and a subtle taste from the original cane juice.

  • EXPELLER-PRESSED CANOLA OIL: THUMBS UP

    This all-natural plant oil is extracted using a non-chemical process and has good monounsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids too

  • EXPELLER-PRESSED INGREDIENTS
    (also known as COLD-PRESSED INGREDIENTS): THUMBS UP

    In this process natural oils are extracted from seeds by mechanical pressure without the use or addition of chemicals, colorings, or preservatives.

  • FRACTIONATED OILS: THUMBS UP

    These oils are plant-based oils that are used for coatings on many energy bars or whenever fat is needed to stay solid at room temperature.

  • GLUTEMATE: (also known as Glutamic acid): THUMBS UP

    Free glutamate is naturally occurring in some foods such as cheese, milk, tomatoes, mushrooms, yeast and soy. This is different than monosodium glutamate (MSG), the artificial flavor enhancer, a compound of sodium plus glutamate.

  • GLYCERIN: THUMBS UP

    This colorless liquid helps ingredients of different water content get along together (so dry ingredients such as grains stay dry, and moist ingredients like fruit stay moist). Kashi’s glycerin is from plant, not animal, sources.

  • LACTIC ACID: THUMBS UP

    Known as milk acid, this natural compound is used to increase the cheese flavor in foods like pizza. Despite the term milk acid, Kashi uses only vegetable sources, so it’s okay for vegan diets.

  • MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE (MSG): THUMBS DOWN 

    This controversial flavor enhancer is commonly used in Chinese food, canned vegetables, soups, and processed meats.

  • OLIGIOFRUCTOSE: THUMBS UP

    Oligiosaccharide or alternative sweetener derived inulin, which is found naturally in chicory root. Often used to help provide a thicker texture.

  • PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED OIL: THUMBS DOWN 

    This oil has been partially hardened through chemical means and contributes trans fats to foods.

  • POLYDEXTROSE: THUMBS DOWN 

    This chemically created additive is used as a sugar replacement and a fiber supplement in many foods.

  • POTASSIUM SORBATE: THUMBS DOWN 

    This food preservative is used to hinder the growth of mold and yeast.

  • SILICON DIOXIDE: THUMBS DOWN 

    This naturally occurring mineral is used to keep powdered foods flowing smoothly without congealing.

  • SODIUM BENZOATE: THUMBS DOWN 

    This chemical preservative is used most prevalently in acidic foods like salad dressings, carbonated drinks, fruit juices, and condiments.

  • SODIUM PHOSPHATES: THUMBS UP

    These are normal and essential salts for the body that work as natural leavening agents, helping make baked goods light and fluffy.

  • SUCRALOSE: THUMBS DOWN 

    This artificial sweetener is 600 times sweeter than real sugar.

  • TARTARIC ACID: THUMBS UP

    This organic acid can be found in plants and is used to provide tartness in food.

Melissa, Editorial Director

Melissa B. Williams is a freelance writer and editor based in Louisville, Colorado. She previously served as the Editorial Director for Healing Lifestyles & Spas for 10 years and remains a frequent contributor.

With her love of health and writing, Melissa has written for such publications as Shape, Natural Solutions, Yoga Journal, Self and Pilates Style, and has created recipes and food-oriented stories for such publications as Delicious Living and Cooking Light.
Melissa, Editorial Director

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