Tips for Reading Labels on Food

Posted on Jul 24, 2013

One of the easiest ways to make healthier choices when you are grocery shopping is to read the nutrition labels that appear on packaged food. These labels can give you a lot of information about the ingredients in your food as well as detailed information on the nutrients, vitamins and nutritional elements present.

However, reading food labels can sometimes be confusing. There is a lot of information on the labels and it is often hard to tell which information is relevant.

Here are a few tips for getting the important information that you need when reading food labels.

Start by looking at the serving size. It will tell you the size of one serving in grams and/or another form of measurement (such as “1 slice.”) Knowing the serving size is important because this size is what all of the nutritional information is based upon. If you’re trying to compare two types of food, you’ll want to make sure that you’re aware of the serving size. For example, a product could look like it has 20% fewer calories than a competitor but the serving size could be 35% smaller.

Look at the number of calories per serving. To maintain a healthy weight, it’s important to pay attention to the number of calories you eat in a day. If you don’t know how many calories you should be eating each day, ask your doctor.

The nutrition facts table tells you how much of each nutrient the food in question contains. Pay attention to the amount of fat, sodium and other nutritional elements to ensure that you are not eating too much (or too few) of these elements. Nutrients are often displayed as a percentage of the recommended daily value.

Look at the list of ingredients. Ingredients that are positioned at the front of the ingredient list are present in larger quantities than the foods at the end. Remember that some ingredients go by many different names, so you’ll need to pay attention. If you have a food intolerance or food allergy, you’ll need to ensure that you can safely eat all of the ingredients in the food.

Reading the nutrition labels on food is a great way to ensure that you know what you’re putting into your body.

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