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How to get the most information out of nutrition labels

How to get the most information out of nutrition labels

Many of us are making the extra effort to make sure we are eating healthier. Often, that starts with scanning the nutrition label on our favorite foods at the grocery store so that we can make an informed decision.

However, those labels can be misleading. Here are some tips for reading the label the right way, so that your purchase winds up boosting your health, not your waistline:

Servings. Look at the size of a single serving and how many there are in a package. If you’re looking at cookies and the calorie count is 150, that doesn't sound so bad, but upon closer examination, you may find that the serving is two cookies. Eat a handful, and you’re closing in on your total calorie count for the day.

Fat, Cholesterol & Sodium. These three should be the next items you consider, and you need to put a limit on each. In the case of fat, no more than 56 to 78 grams per day, including no more than 16 grams of saturated fat, 2 grams of trans fat. Aim for less than 300 mg of cholesterol, and as little sodium as possible.

Fiber, Protein, Vitamins. These are the items where you should strive to hit 100 percent. Try to reach that each day or get as close to them as possible.

Daily Value. All of the label’s percentages are based on a 2,000-calorie daily intake. If you are eating less than that, then these percentages are going to be higher. Keep that in mind, especially with total calories, fats and cholesterol.

Keeping on top of your diet isn’t always easy, but it is always smart. Proper nutrition means plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as lean meats and other low-fat foods. Labels can give you a good head start when you’re buying staples at the store, but only if you aren’t fooled by efforts to make some not-so-good foods look better for you than they are.

posted on October 10, 2012 in news