• What should you look for when reading food labels?

    What should you look for when reading food labels?

    While everyone’s nutritional needs can be different, some general strategies can help can help make eating healthier a little easier. Here, dietician Deirdre Postier, RD, LD, offers tips to help you use food labels to your advantage.

    #1. Saturated fat: Look for foods that have 2 grams or less of saturated fat per serving; try not to go over 15 grams of saturated fat per day. Helpful tip: Saturated fat in people’s diets typically comes from higher fat meats and dairy products. Choosing a “low-fat”, “light” or “reduced-fat” option can help.

    #2. Trans fats: Keep these out of your diet altogether- any amount is bad for you. Trans fats are inflammatory to your vessels and contribute to problems like heart disease. Note: Trans fats are also known as hydrogenated oils. Read the ingredient list to identify foods containing partially hydrogenated oils.

    #3. “Natural” foods”: Even foods that are “natural” may have ingredients that can be problematic, like salt; also natural does not mean organic.

    #4. Percent daily value: This is based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so it may vary for different people. As a general rule, for nutrients like fat, saturated fat or sodium, look for 5 percent or less; for nutrients like fiber, vitamins or minerals, look for 20 percent or more.

    When making food comparisons, make sure you’re comparing similar serving sizes, Postier advises. In general, when deciding between products, try to choose the one with less calories, fat and sodium.

    If you’re eating on the go and food labels aren’t available, consider a grilled chicken option as a healthier choice, and try to avoid fattening condiments like mayonnaise, Postier says. Also, load up on fruits and veggies, and keep in mind that Americans’ portion sizes tend to be big, which means there can be more of everything.

     

    Did you know…

    Future changes are coming to the Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the changes are intended to make it easier for consumers to make better informed food choices, for instance by basing serving sizes on the amounts of foods and beverages that people actually eat, and making the type size bigger for certain categories like “calories”. More about the changes and when they will be implemented can be found on the FDA website.

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