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Tips for Understanding Food Labels
Do you find nutrition labels confusing? You're not alone — even those who consider themselves savvy shoppers don't always understand. Labels can be very misleading, but we will help you decipher labels and choose nutritious food options.
Pay attention to the serving size as oftentimes there are two to three (or more) servings in an individual package.
How do these calories fit into your recommended daily caloric needs? Choose a wide range of lower-calorie foods from each food group to get the full range of nutrients and vitamins your body needs.
Look for no more than 3 grams of fat for every 100 calories or no more than one-third of the total calories from fat.
The recommendation is a maximum of 200 to 300 milligrams per day.
More than 400 milligrams is considered a high-sodium food (600 milligrams for an entrée). A low-sodium diet is considered to be no more than 1,500 to 2,000 milligrams of sodium per day, about half of which naturally occurs in foods.
Look for grains and cereals with at least 3 grams per serving.
Choose products with 20 percent daily values of vitamins, calcium and iron.
Since there is a need to eat healthy, manufacturers will heavily market this to consumers, which can make some of their claims misleading or confusing. Be careful of the following statements, which are appearing on many products on the market today.
If you think it’s a high-fiber food, check the label to make sure there is at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. If it’s a zero-calorie-per-serving food, use the product cautiously to avoid getting excessive hidden calories. If you think baked automatically means low fat, check the label to make sure. And by all means, keep practicing those quick finger spritzes on those cans of nonstick cooking sprays!