Nutrition Labels and Your Health: 4 Tips You Need to Know

About eighty percent of the food on shelves in supermarkets today didn’t exist 100 years ago.” – Larry McCleary, MD

There are two ways to avoid food labels. The first is to eat foods that are naturally label free. The second is to ignore them, which is what most of us want to do!

Think about it, are you really paying attention to serving sizes? Half a cup of ice cream can look astonishingly small if you’ve never measured it. The awareness that a label can bring to the dinner table can be a real bummer; however, paying attention to a food’s label can have considerable impact on your health.

Here are 4 tips to keep in mind when dealing with food labels.

Number 1Food labels and packaging are used to inform and sell

One purpose of a food label, along with the food's packaging, is to inform consumers about an item's nutritional value. Another purpose is to sell the product. Be cautious of claims like, “endorsed by moms of the healthiest kids.” These statements are meant to influence, not inform buying decisions.


Number 2Unused sugar is stored as fat

Did you know there are 4 grams of sugar in every teaspoon? And if it's not used for energy, the sugar you don’t burn is changed in your body and stored as fat? Keep this in mind when consuming a product. Also, if you want to cut down on sugar, the American Heart Association has some great tips


Number 3 Pay attention to fat

Did you know that 1 pat of butter, or 1 teaspoon of oil is equal to 5 grams of fat? It all adds up, so why not look for the healthiest fat possible? Scan the label for good fats, which include polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fats. These can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease.

Number 4Look for replacements

Now that you’re paying attention to food labels, it’s time to evaluate what’s in your kitchen! Take some time to go through your cupboards. Make note of what you see. The next time you go grocery shopping, try finding replacements for foods that are high in fat, added sugar and sodium.


For more tips on understanding food nutrition labels, visit the National Heart Association.


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