Taking a Closer (and Better) Look at Food Labels

No matter what you buy on a trip to the grocery store, the products you purchase will almost always have a nutrition label. In fact, the presence of such labels is so ubiquitous that many people simply ignore them. However, these labels are there for a reason – they contain crucial information about the product you’re about to consume. Below is a brief overview on how to properly analyze the nutrition labels on your foods and beverages.

Look at the Serving Size:

A common error that shoppers make is to skip over the serving size data at the top of the label. For example, a label might say that its product has 10 grams of sugar. To you average consumer, this may not seem so bad. However, suppose this same label also stated that the package contained 4 serving sizes. Eating the whole package would mean that you have just consumed 40 grams of sugar in a single setting.

Review the Bad Stuff:

When reviewing the health properties of a given product, it’s highly important to take note of how many unhealthy ingredients a product contains. Specifically, your eyes should be tuned towards added sugars, saturated fat, sodium and trans fats.

Pay Attention to the Daily Value:

The daily value of a particular ingredient can be very important data. For example, say you would like to consume less sodium in your diet. A good rule of thumb would be to pick an item with less than 5 percent of sodium per serving. Conversely, if you want to identify products with high levels of healthy ingredients, the ingredient in question’s DV should exceed 20 percent.

Eat Smart:

Quick question – without looking, can you name the critical nutrients that your body needs to fire on all cylinders? While you might be able to name a few of them, the list is actually quite long. When shopping, be on the lookout for calcium, choline, dietary fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins A, C, D and E.

Calories Count:

When reviewing a nutrition label, it’s important to remember that the data provided is based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet. This is suitable for most shoppers; however, some individuals may require either more or less calories depending on a multitude of factors, including age, gender and levels of physical activity. Likewise, those who are trying to either lose weight or bulk up often need differing amounts of calories.

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