Eating nutritiously sounds like a simple plan until you get to the store and start scouring through food labels. Tricky marketing, ingredients you can’t pronounce and percentages that mean nothing to you. How do you make sense of it all?
Five Apps That Make Sense of Food Labels
Seriously. How did we live before smartphones? Twenty years ago, you would’ve had to conduct extensive research to collect all the information that’s now available with one click on your phone. By simply taking a picture of a barcode, you can learn all the secrets — good and bad — that those food labels have been hiding. There are countless food apps to choose from, and the five we’ve listed below are a good place to start.
EWG rates food based on nutrition, ingredient concerns and the degree of processing with a 1- to 10-point scale. It steers you toward whole foods and away from pesticides, additives, contaminants and heavily processed items.
With an A to F grading system, FoodFacts tells you what’s inside a food and how it affects your body. This is a great all-around customizable app that helps you focus on what’s important to you. If you have food allergies or sensitivities, it can help you look for problem ingredients within a food. If you want to lose weight, you can use it to identify healthy foods and track what you eat. FoodFacts provides information about ingredients; nutrients; and protein, carb and fat breakdowns.
Fooducate won first prize in a U.S. Surgeon General Healthy App Challenge. It tells you not just the number of calories, but the quality of calories in a food. This is an incredibly comprehensive app that analyzes several aspects of nutrition. These include added sugars, trans fats, high-fructose corn syrup, food coloring, genetically modified organisms (GMO), additives, preservatives and artificial sweeteners. In addition to all that, you can customize it for your dietary preferences, food allergies, health conditions and weight-loss goals.
The GoodGuide app is unique because it gives information about food as well as other products. With a scan of the barcode, you’ll be able to see if the product contains ingredients that may be linked to health risks. The simple 0 to 10 rating system makes it easy to find the highest-rated products.
The goal of the Sift Food Labels app is to help you make sense of sometimes deceptive food labeling. For example, there are many different names for “sugar” that can be used on a label. Just scan the barcode, and it translates ingredients into simple terms. It also flags “risky ingredients,” including those that have been banned in other countries. If you’re trying to eat a special diet, like gluten-free or Paleo, the app will highlight the foods that fit those plans.
Want to talk to a dietitian about your food choices? Contact us at the McConnell Heart Health Center, we’re ready to support you!