Ask Leah! The Ingles Dietitian

Partner content: Avoiding ingredients

Partner content: Avoiding ingredients

Question: If there is a long list of ingredients that sound like chemicals on a food package, should I avoid buying it? 

Answer: This is not an easy “yes” or “no” answer and may depend on your preferences and any allergies or ingredient sensitivities you have. Also, remember that we eat foods as part of a meal, not in isolation – so eating a variety of foods is more important than being hyper-focused on an individual “bad” or “good” food or ingredient.

Ingredients added to foods may serve very important purposes. For example, vitamins and minerals such as folic acid may be added to enrich foods like flours, breads, pasta, rice and tortillas. Folic acid may reduce the risk of neural tube defects in infants, which is important for women in their child-bearing years.

Ingredients appear on the label in order from highest to lowest quantity. Ingredients present in the highest amount will be in the first few listed. Flavoring agents and additives often appear in ingredient lists and can serve the purpose of protecting food color, taste, smell or preventing microbial growth. These are often in very, very small amounts and appear towards the end of the list.

Leah McGrath, RDN, LDN

Ingles Markets Corporate Dietitian

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