Get the Facts on Food Labels
The thing about eating eating a crispy apple, juicy tomato or a fresh peach is you know exactly what you’re getting. There are no hidden contents or misleading content claims. The same can’t be said for prepackaged foods. Prepackaged doesn’t always mean unhealthy or bad for you. Reading and understanding what the food label means will give you the knowledge to make smart food choices.
1. Start with the serving size.
2. Read the total calories and fat.
3. Use the percent Daily Values to help you decide how a particular food fits into your diet/meal plan.
- daily values are average levels of nutrients for a person eating 2,000 calories a day
4. Know the High and Low of Daily Values.
- 5% or less is low
- 20% or more is high
5. Notice the fat, cholesterol and sodium content.
- aim to eat less of these nutrients
- look for a low % Daily Value
6. Look for vitamins, nutrients minerals and fiber content.
- look for a high % Daily Value
7. Know the sugar content.
8. Know the meaning of the following terms that can be misleading.
- Low calorie, Low cholesterol, Reduced, Good source of…, Calorie free, Fat free/sugar free, Low sodium, High in…, Whole grain, Multigrain, Natural, Healthy, Zero trans fat, and High fiber.
9. Check the ingredient list.
- Food with more than one ingredient must have an ingredient list on the label. Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. Those in the largest amounts are listed first.
At first it’s a little time consuming to take the time to read the labels while you’re shopping. Stick with it and the process becomes quicker. You learn the facts about the foods and brands you buy regularly and you will not have to read the label to know what you’re getting.
Sources: US Food and Drug Administration, ADA Complete Food and Nutrition Guide
Quinoa, Corn and Black Bean Salad
Taco Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing
Easy Bean and Rice Wraps
Spicy Asian Quinoa Salad
Baked Spaghetti Squash with Spicy Lentil Sauce
Vegetable Enchiladas with Bean Sauce
Apple with almond butter
Edamame Hummus with E2 crackers
Fruit salad with cinnamon and walnuts
Do you read food labels? Are there particular things on a food label you’re most interested in knowing? Do you have any additional tips or information to share about label reading?