The 10- Second Rule that Can Save Your Life

ID-10055103Someone once said they wished there was an app that allowed them to take a picture of the food they were thinking of buying at the grocery store that would then tell them whether or not they should eat it.  How do you pick the right foods at the grocery store? How do you know which ones you should never place in your cart?

Well, there is not an app like that (yet!), but there is something almost as easy. It is called the Nutrition Facts box. It tells you the serving size, calories, fat and sugar content, and sundry other facts. And, it only takes ten seconds to make a decision that is better for your health.

Whether you look at a box of club crackers or a bag of potato chips you will notice on the side of each container a label that shows in large print: Nutrition Facts. The diagram shows serving size, calories, different fats, sodium, total carbohydrates, dietary fiber, sugars, and protein.

Those are all interesting facts, but you can concentrate on one little section of the box. Train your eyes to go directly to the total fat and cholesterol segment of the box.

You want to concentrate on the “bad threes.” First, check the initial two items that are always listed directly under total fat: saturated fat and trans fat. In addition to those two, look for the dietary cholesterol number, which is always found just below the saturated fat and trans fat listing. Zero, zero, zero is your target.

Saturated fat, trans fat, and dietary cholesterol are the most significant elements in foods that result in the greatest elevation of LDL Cholesterol in your blood. The ten second rule is simple—look to see if there is any number other than zero beside each of these “bad threes,” and if so, put the item back on the shelf and find a similar food that doesn’t contain any of the “bad threes.” Those “bad threes” are the ones to avoid like the plague.

I don’t want to make it sound too simple, because you will find many, many foods with zero trans fat and zero cholesterol, but the saturated fat section is where you will have the most difficult time finding a zero. You have to bump your desired number from zero up to 0.5 grams of saturated fat. And that’s not 5; it’s 0.5. Develop your habit. If over 0.5 grams for saturated fat, put the item back.

Additionally, start a new habit by replacing packaged snacks with some nuts and bananas, grapes, oranges, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, or any other fruit you like. Nuts do contain saturated fat. But, they also contain a great deal more of the good fats than the bad, which I explain in more detail in my book, Prescription for Life.

If you develop that simple shopping step of knowing where to look on the Nutrition Facts box, you are off to the races. You will find food choices that are similar to what you want but have lower saturated fat content; all you need to do is look.

Think you know what items to put in your cart? Test your food knowledge with the Health I.Q . Quiz at Prescription For Life and  sign up for his newsletter for a dose of helpful advice each week!


“Nutritious Apple” photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at