The Basics of Reading Nutrition Labels to Make Better Food Choices
Reading nutrition labels is essential to my shopping routine and a tool to guide decision making pertaining to processed foods. Let’s take a look at what we can learn from a nutrition label.
1. Look at Serving Size and Calories, which indicate the amount of energy a product provides. As you do so, ask yourself the following.
Does the serving size seem realistic to me?
Do the calories align with my goals?
Do I need to modify the serving size to align with my goals?
2. Look at the Saturated Fat, this is found in products like butter, lard, ghee, meats, and cheese. A diet high in saturated fat is associated with increased heart and circulatory risk. Based on this scientific evidence, it’s recommended to reduce your intake of saturated fat to protect your overall heart health.
3. Look at the Sodium, another component of the nutrition label related to heart health. A high sodium diet can raise your blood pressure, a risk factor for heart attack and stroke. The USDA recommends reducing daily intake of sodium to 2,400 mg and individuals who already are at risk may have more restrictive sodium diets.
4. Look at the Added Sugars, listed below the total sugars. This is the amount of added sugars in a product, not including the natural sugars found in fruits and dairy. I recommend limiting your total daily intake of added sugar to 25g as this is considered a non-nutritive source. Many sauces, dressings, energy bars, and granolas can contain high amounts of added sugars and reading this part of the label could help you manage your blood sugars and prevent the development of diabetes.
Upon observation, it is clear nutrition labels are packed with information that allow you to make decisions that better your well-being. I encourage you to take advantage of it to make informed intentional food decisions. I am happy to offer tailored guidance and support, just schedule an appointment today to discuss how these components can impact your well-being and how to make choices to better your health.
Prabha Honrath, RD