New to reading nutrition labels? Want some practice and pointers? Don’t know what to look for? In this series, we are giving a full breakdown of how to analyze a food’s nutrition label. Today? Marzetti Raspberry Cabernet Vinaigrette.
Note: this is episode 5 in an ongoing series of label-reading practice
Each post increases in difficulty and builds off the previous
1. What Am I Eating?
The first step when reading a label is always to use your brain. Before doing any reading, it’s best to make a quick educated guess or a rough estimate of what you may find on the label.
Examples: Is it really savory? Might be high in fat. Is it sweet? You can bet on sugar. Is it filling? Look for protein.
Making predictions like these will very quickly improve your reading skills, so you can reach a point down the road where you can estimate what’s in your food to a high degree of precision.
In this case, we are dealing with a bottle of vinaigrette. Commonly found in grocery stores. There are three basic things that make up a salad dressing:
- Carbs (sugar)
- Sodium (salt)
These should be running through your head before you even look at the label.
2. Check for Claims
Is there anything on the container meant to entice or warn consumers? Examples: “Low sugar,” “High in Vitamin C,” or “A good source of fiber.”
Based on these, even before reading, you can observe how it compares to other products or even other brands of the same food.
For this bottle of dressing, we can find 3 claims:
- “No Preservatives”
- “60% Less Fat than other Vinaigrettes”
See also: Get to Know Your Nutrients
These are good to note. If looking for a low fat option, this may sound appealing. However, as is the case in next to all foods and drinks, when you take out something tasty, you gotta make substitutions.
99% of the time, if fat has been removed, sweeteners or salt have been added. If salt has been removed, sweeteners and fat tend to be added. If sugar has been removed, salt or fat are added. You get the idea.
3. Read the Ingredient List
Now it’s time to look at the back of the package.
See also: What’s on the Nutrition Label?
- Sugar– remember what I said about making up for lost flavor?
- Soybean Oil– an inexpensive vegetable oil. Not extremely nutritious, found in mayo.
- Red Wine Vinegar
- Distilled Vinegar
- Raspberries– nice that they used real raspberries.
- Cabernet Wine
- Salt– again, most of what makes condiments, sauces, dips, and dressings taste good.
- "The additive is a polysaccharide gum derived from Xanthomon... More– a thickener.
- This term, to be honest, does not mean much. It simply means... More Flavors– as explained here, “Natural” is highly ambiguous. Not necessarily good for you, not necessarily bad for you. Not enough info.
- Vegetable Juice added for Color
- Dehydrated Garlic
- Dehydrated Onion
4. Read the Label
- The bottle is roughly 1.5 cups, and each serving of 33g (or roughly 2 tablespoons) is 60 calories.
- There are 3 grams of fat per serving, none (or practically none) of which are trans fats or saturated fats
See also: How are Nutrients and Calories Rounded?
- There are 7g of carbs, 100% of which is sugar
Note the second ingredient on the list.
- There are 210mg of sodium
It is discussed more here how much sodium is too much.
5. The Verdict?
What do you think? Personally, I do not believe this dressing is too bad, when used in moderation.
There are no preservatives, which is a plus. Unfortunately, the source of fat is not ideal, and if this vinaigrette is used too often the sodium and sugar can start racking up.
Thanks for reading!
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