HOW TO READ FOOD LABELS FOR HEALTHY EATING
To reduce calories, look at fatty foods and keep up the list, with general recommendations for fiber intake…. Eating healthy can be challenging. But by understanding and learning how to read a food label, consumers can choose products to align with their health goals!
HOW TO A READ FOOD LABEL FOR HEALTHY EATING
When it comes to reading food labels, the common eye tends to focus on calorie content. Yes, it’s important to consider calories when looking at weight, but they don’t paint a total picture of food. Healthy eating goes beyond calorie intake and can be accomplished with the following food label tips:
Acknowledge the Serving Size
The serving size should always be checked first, all the information indicated on the Nutrition Facts label is based on this number. Multiple food products have more than one serving and it is always important to compare the size of the portion (which you are eating) with the serving size listed. That being said, the average 200 calories listed in the ice cream container is for half a cup, not a full carton.
Deliberate on Percent Daily Values
Acting as a nutritious reference, the percentage daily value (% daily value or% DV) helps consumers imagine how a food fits into their daily diet (based on 2,000 calories). Percentage daily values are provided for all macronutrients and micronutrients included in the nutrition information label. As a general rule of thumb, choose foods high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals (20 percent or more) and low (less than 5 percent) saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium reduce the overall risk of disease and improve health. A source of food contains at least 20 percent of the daily value. For example, a “high source of fiber” indicates at least 20 percent of fiber.
Consider the Macronutrients
Nutrition information labels include three key macronutrients, including carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Carbohydrates are broken down into dietary, total sugars, and added sugars, while fats are often broken down into saturated and trans fats. Individuals should reduce their intake of sugary and saturated and trans fat products (mostly in packaged snacks and sweet treats) and choose foods rich in dietary fiber and protein.
Tread Cautiously with Label Definitions
Label definitions are in most cases short statements that provide quick insights at a glance, including the general definitions of “low-low,” “calorie-free,” “sugar-free,” and “good source.” However, it is important to be careful with the label definitions, as the “sugar-free” food item is not a healthy product and may be filled with unhealthy fats and artificial sweeteners that can cause gastrointestinal upset.
Realize the Importance of Ingredients
While the Nutrition Facts label offers invaluable information, the list of ingredients must not be overlooked. The list of ingredients starts with the most reputable and continues with the least included ingredients. Most health experts recommend giving “five rules” that encourage consumers to choose food products with five or fewer ingredients. They further emphasize the importance of quality ingredients in identifying and selecting products with a high nutritional value. The listed ingredients are useful if trying to avoid or limit certain ingredients such as gluten, lactose, high fructose corn syrup, and other common allergens, intolerances, and incomplete items.
Check Expiration Dates
Healthy eating goes beyond the nutritional value of food and also focuses on its protection. Buyers can reduce the risk of food poisoning when requesting the best food quality by using the dates indicated in the package “by sale,” “by use” and “best used”. However, as a general frame of reference, the product is considered to be healthier (think dairy products, meat, fruits, and veggies), the sooner they expire.