How to Properly Read Food Labels
Good nutrition is essential to overall health and can help you avoid serious medical problems. The foods you eat daily can assist in maintaining a healthy weight, lowering your cholesterol, keeping your blood pressure in a normal range and maintaining joint health. Here are some tips for reading food labels to ensure you are getting the nutrients you need to live your healthiest life.
The portion size is given at the top of the label. This amount is important information because it is often a smaller portion than people usually eat. Therefore, you may have to make adjustments regarding the other data provided, keeping a larger portion in mind.
Total Calories Per Serving
This figure will provide information on the calorie content of the product, based on the portion size. You will have to adjust the number of calories, depending on how much more than the given serving size provided.
Choose Foods with Lower Amount of These Components
If proper nutrition is your goal, you should try to limit the amount of several different food components, such as:
Total carbohydrates – These components are listed in grams and include sugar, starch and dietary fiber. Carbs raise blood sugar levels and are stored as fat when excessive amounts are consumed. However, fiber helps to lower cholesterol and aids in digestion. Choose foods that have low levels of carbohydrates and those with at least three to four grams of dietary fiber for good health.
Total fats – The label will also provide information on the total amount of fat in a serving. This will be further broken down into the amount of saturated fat and trans fat, which you should keep to their lowest percentage for effective weight management and heart health. For example, whole milk contains about five grams of saturated fat while skim milk only contains 0.3 grams of saturated fat.
Sugar – Sugar is usually listed separately to provide information for individuals who must limit their sugar consumption, such as those with diabetes. Sugar will always add to the calorie count of foods, without providing nutritional value.
Cholesterol – Labels also provide information on the percentage of cholesterol in the food. High cholesterol levels are associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, so you should always choose foods that are low in cholesterol.
Sodium – Sodium is a component in many foods, but it is associated with high blood pressure and should be limited to 2,300 milligrams per day. Your physician may recommend even lower levels of sodium depending on your current health state.
Labels Also Provide Data on Nutrients You Need
Food labels also offer information on the nutrients in food that are necessary for good health. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration notes that Americans do not get enough vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron. By checking the labels, you can ensure the foods you eat contain these vital nutrients.
If you read labels carefully and make healthy food choices, be proud that have taken proactive steps to improve the state of your health. Contact us at Superior Healthcare Physical Medicine in Katy TX at 281-574-5539 for an appointment to discuss how you can improve your eating habits to work towards a healthier lifestyle.