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How to Read a Food Label

When it comes to nutrition, we really should be mindful of portion sizes and the nutrients in the foods that we consume.

Food labels tell us most of all we need to know about a food. Disclaimer, whole foods should make up the majority of what we eat. However, in this day and time, it is difficult to avoid packaged foods. In that case, it is important to understand how to read a food label. Following are some important things that you might find on a label and what they mean:

Serving Size – The serving size is the amount of the product recommended to eat at a time.

Servings Per Container – The total number of servings in the packaged product.

%Daily Value –is a percentage of the daily value for each nutrient in a serving of the food.

Calories – Tells you the number of calories in a serving. Important to know when tracking the total number of calories eaten in a day.

Fiber—Usually listed in grams. Fiber is important in the reduction of the risk of heart disease and cancer. A healthier processed food will have at least 2 grams of fiber per serving.

Total Fat – Usually listed in grams. Here is where you’ll learn the number of fat grams per serving.

Saturated Fat – Usually listed in grams. Saturated fat is listed separately for total fat because it is important to limit this type of fat. Saturated fat raises your cholesterol and contributes to heart disease.

Sodium – Usually measured in milligrams. Knowing this measurement helps you to keep track of your daily sodium intake. It is important to keep your sodium low. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that Americans consume less than 2,300mg a day as part of a healthy diet.

Cholesterol – Usually measured in milligrams. Cholesterol is only found in animal-based products, i.e. meat and dairy. Be careful with this one; too much cholesterol can lead to heart disease.

Carbohydrates—Usually measured in grams. Included in this measurement is the total of dietary fibers, total sugars and added sugars. Total sugar usually means the amount of naturally occurring sugars per servings. Added sugars are well added sugars or food packaged as sugar.

Be careful with labels containing marketing terms that might lead you to believe that unhealthy foods are also healthy. Words like low-carb, low-calorie, fruit-flavored, zero trans-fat, organic, etc. Remember: Before you eat, read!


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