Food Label Reading Recommendations
Ideally, it is best to eat foods that do not necessarily require food labels like vegetables, fruits, dried beans, grains, seafood, poultry, and lean meats. However, we don’t live in a perfect world and most of us eat some kind of packaged foods. Food labels contain important information that can guide us in selecting healthy food options. The following are guidelines that can help you make better decisions when selecting foods.
1. Serving Size
The serving size will determine what the appropriate portion/amount is for the given calories and nutrients.
2. Servings per Container
The servings per container will determine how many single portions the package contains.
Calories are a measure of how much energy you exchange from one serving of that food.
4. Total Carbohydrates
The total carbohydrates will reflect the amount of natural sugars, added sugars, and fiber in one serving. If you are counting your carbohydrates make sure to count the total carbohydrates, not the “sugar.” A good general rule is to choose foods that contain less than 5 grams of sugar and at least 3 grams of fiber.
5. Limit the following nutrients:
- Sodium: 2,400 mg per day.
- Total fat: a low-fat product should have less than 3 grams of total fat per 100-calorie serving.
- Trans fat: 0 grams. If the ingredient list includes “partially hydrogenated oil,” the product has trans fat.
- Saturated fat: less than 1 gram per 100-calorie serving.
- Cholesterol: 300 mg per day. If your cholesterol levels are high minimize cholesterol to 200 mg per day.
Should always be accounted for in your total daily protein needs.
7. % Daily Value
This should be the least of your worries, unless you have a medical condition that requires you to limit specific nutrients. The percent daily value is based on a 2,000-calorie diet, therefore, your specific percent daily values will vary based on your daily calorie needs.