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Learning to Read Labels: Choosing the Most Effective Health Products

Learning to Read Labels: Choosing the Most Effective Health Products

The health foods sold in the market today are all labelled with “Food Labels” and “Nutrition Labels”. However, how many of us know how to read and understand the contents of products and their effectiveness? No matter how detailed these labels are, they will be useful only if we are able to capture their main points. Now, without further ado, let us have a brief introduction of the labels!


How to Differentiate Between “Food Label” and “Nutrition Label” on a Health Food Packaging?

Identifying the main points of “Food Label” and “Nutrition Label”


  • “Food Label” contains the information of the packaged food, including “Best Before / Expiry Date”, “Weight” and “Ingredients”. For “Ingredients”, the contents are listed in descending order, starting with the most used ingredient and so on. From this, we can take note of whether a certain supplement capsule contains a large amount of active ingredients. There are unscrupulous merchants in the market who will add saturated fatty acids (will increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases if consumed excessively), so that their fish oil capsules will appear larger. This will mislead customers into believing that these capsules contain a high concentration of fish oil, though the amount of fatty acids essential for the human body (DHA & EPA) within these capsules is in fact not high.
  • ”Nutrition Label” lists out the nutrients contained within that particular food product, including “Energy”, “Protein”, “Total Fat”, “Saturated Fat”, “Trans Fat”, “ Total Carbohydrates”, “Sugar”, “Dietary Fiber” and “Sodium”. Food items are required to be tested in laboratories for their nutritional values. Please do take note of the nutritional value of each serving and not just the value for every 100g, so to get a clearer picture on the actual amount of nutrition intake without being misled. 


The Importance of “Standardization”!


There is a difference between ingredients and active ingredients. Ingredients are important, though the active contents might be lost during the product’s manufacturing process. As such, the amount of active ingredients is more important in comparison.


“Standardization” is a stringent manufacturing procedure which is done to ensure the quality of products, ensuring that the amount of ingredients contained in each serving will not fall below the stated amount. There is a standard of measurement for the concentration of active ingredients within each product, meaning the concentration of such active plant ingredients are acknowledged by contemporary Natural Herb sectors. This is known as “Standardization”. As for ingredients that meet a certain recognized standard, they will be known as Standardized Extracts”. Although products with “Standardization” are relatively expensive, this is the only way to guarantee a product with a standardized amount of “Standardized Extracts”. This is an important guarantee for the consumers as it can greatly increase a product’s reliability.

For example, there are a lot of blueberry abstracts on the streets today. These products usually highlight the amount of blueberry abstract they contain, which is merely the main ingredient. The actual active extract which is beneficial to the human eyes is in fact Anthocyanin. However, such products will usually not state the amount of extract used, which can mean that there are very little active ingredients within the product.


Two Types of “Standardization” Labeling

  • Concentrate Extract Ratio
  • Example:CATALO Bilberry Eye Bright Extract GOLD
  • Active Ingredient and Extract Concentration
  • Example: CATALO Bilberry Eye Bright Extract GOLD

Three Steps to Smart Reading of Health Product Labels:

  1. On the ingredient list located in the “Food Label”, identify the amount of active ingredients within the product in accordance to the positioning of that ingredient within the list, so as not be deceived by chemical terms or some other unnecessary ingredients.
  2. Bear in mind to take note of the serving size and the respective nutritional values on the “Nutrition Label”. This is to gauge the amount of nutrient taken for each time these products are consumed. Also, please do specially take note of the amount of Trans Fat within the product as nutritional supplements will never contain Trans Fat.
  3. Read the “Standardization” carefully. Calculate the amount of active ingredients from the list of ingredients, ensuring that there is enough amount of active ingredients for body supplementation needs.


Best Example: CATALO Bilberry Eye Bright Extract GOLD

  • The three major active ingredients are European Bilberry Extract, Marigold Extract and Eyebright Extract. They are listed as the first three ingredients on “Food Label”.
  • It has been clearly labelled on the “Nutrition Label” that the serving size is 2 capsule. No sugar or fats included.
  • The contents of Standardized Extracts (Anthocyanin, Lutein and Zeaxanthin) are clearly labelled.


Now we should have a much clearer idea on how to read and utilize health product labels and be a smart consumer! 

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