WHAT'S IN A LABEL?
Food labels can be overwhelming. They contain some useful information, but can be confusing. There are multiple numbers, measurements and percentages. What do you need to know to use the label? The diagram below points out areas to know and areas to avoid.
- Check the serving size first. This is important. The amount listed here is the amount the label is referring to, which may only be part of the package.
- Determine how many calories you will be consuming from the item.
- The % Daily Value is information you can live without. It is based on a 2000-calorie diet, which may or may not be right for you.
- These are items that increase risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. Saturated Fat should be less than 5 grams and Trans Fat should be 1 or less. Sodium should be less than 400mg.
- These are vitamins and minerals that are important. However, focus on the Dietary Fiber. Try to pick foods with at least 3 grams. Whole grain foods, fruits, and veggies are good sources of fiber.
- This information is very confusing and does not apply to many people. This is another area that you can live without.
The ingredient list is important when looking for food allergies, avoiding specific items (i.e., high fructose corn syrup), or determining if a product is truly whole grain. Ingredients are listed in order of weight, largest first. When determining whole grains, the first word should always be “whole” and “enriched” should not be in the first or second item.