Understanding Food Labels for Healthy Eating

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How much am I really eating? This is a question that runs through the minds of many, especially those trying to eat a healthy and balanced diet. Food labels provide nutritional facts and information about the foods that you and your family eat. From the amount of calories, fiber and total fat grams, to the food’s ingredients, the food label is the most essential tool in evaluating and monitoring the nutritional value and dietary information of the foods you and your family consume. Learning how to accurately read and understand information on the food label will help you buy and choose foods that are healthier than others.

Listed below are several tips for reading and understanding the nutritional facts that are found on various packaged foods.

• Note the serving size
Determine how many servings you plan to eat. For example, if you plan on eating 3 servings you will have to multiply the calories and other nutrients by 3.

• Check the total fat grams
A low-fat snack has three grams of fat or less per serving

• Check the saturated fat
Most individuals should consume less than 20 grams of saturated fat per day.

• Is the food high is sodium?
Compare this with the recommendation of 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day

• Look at the fiber grams.
Aim for 2-3 grams of fiber per serving in breads and baked goods. Most American only get about half the recommended 23 grams of fiber each day.

• Is this food high in sugar?
Check the sugar grams in relation to the other nutrients such as fat and protein. You are getting empty calories if the food contains only sugar. The average American drinks 50 pounds of sugar in soda alone. That’s a total of 87.950 empty calories a year. When the math is done all those sodas equal up to 25 pounds of fat that is put on the typical American.

Article by
San Diego Plastic Surgeon