Reading food labels is very important in understanding basic nutrition information on how many calories, fat, sodium and other nutrients are in a food. When choosing food items in the store, compare nutrition information to help pick the healthiest one.
How To Read Food Labels
- Serving Size: The nutrition information on the food label is based on a single serving so it is essential to know the serving size. If you eat more than one serving, you will consume more calories, fat, etc.
- Total Fat: The American Heart Association recommends limiting total fat to 50-70g per day. Choose foods that are less than 8g of fat per serving or 20% of daily value.
- Sodium: Limit sodium to less than 2,300mg daily by choosing foods that are less than 20% daily value. The lower the better! Frozen Entrée goal: less than 500-600mg sodium. Cheese goal: less than 140mg sodium.
- Carbohydrates: Total carbohydrates include all natural sugars, added sugars, starches and fiber in one serving.
- Dietary Fiber: Choose foods with 2-5g per serving.
- Sugar: Choose foods with less than 8-10g per serving. Extra sugar can raise blood sugar and triglyceride levels.
- Ingredient Label: Look for a whole grain enriched flour as a main ingredient to boost fiber. If a food has sugar listed in the first 3-5 ingredients, this food item will be higher in carbohydrates and added sugar. Sodium can be found in preservatives and flavorings.
- Claims: Be aware that “Reduced” or “ Free” foods may be low in one ingredient but high in others.