How To Read Nutrition Labels

By Subodh / March 26, 2013

Have you ever looked at the nutrition label for a product and felt completely lost? Aside from possibly noticing the ingredients and how many calories are inside, you may think that everything else is mumbo jumbo.

While nutrition labels may seem confusing, they actually contain a great deal of information that is extremely beneficial to you. So if you’re not sure how to read a nutrition label, the following information will help teach you.

Serving Size

The basis of the entire label is centered off the serving size. This information is generally found at the top of the label, and it will let you know the recommended serving size for a certain product. For example, a serving size in a box of cereal is typically ½ cup of cereal. The rest of the information you find on the label is now based off that ½ cup. So, for example, if the label says that there are 200 calories per serving, it means that there are 200 calories in every ½ cup of cereal consumed. Read Nutrition Labels

Calories

The next section that most consumers look for when reading a nutrition label is the calories. Again, the amount of calories listed is the amount of calories per serving, not in the entire container. When looking at amount of calories, you should understand that anything under 50 calories per serving is typically considered low while anything over 400 is considered extremely high. If you are watching your weight or trying to stick to a certain calorie diet, this information is extremely helpful.

Fat

There are different types of fat listed on a nutrition label, including total, trans and saturated. Most people look at the total fat line and assume that this information will tell them if the food is healthy or not. But the total fat line is a combination of all the fat in the food, including both good and bad. If you’re worried about unhealthy fats, you’ll want to look at the saturated fat section of the label. Saturated fat is what is known to raise cholesterol levels, so make sure that the amount of saturated fats listed on an item is low.

Sodium

The sodium section on a food label will let you know exactly how much sodium is in the product. You want to make sure that the sodium levels in the product are low, as too much sodium can cause high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease. A general rule of thumb is to try and choose foods that contain 5% (or less) of your daily value.

Cholesterol

Nutrition labels also contain a section for cholesterol, and you want to refrain from eating foods that are high in cholesterol, as they can contribute to heart disease. To be safe, you’ll want to choose foods that contain 5% (or less) of your daily value.

Carbs

If you’re on a diet that limits your carb intake or if you have diabetes, you’ll want to pay attention to the carb section of the nutrition label. This is generally the “Total Carbs”, and it tells you exactly how many carbs (both good and bad) are found in one serving of the product.

Sugars

You will also find a section dedicated to telling you exactly how much sugar is in one serving of the product. Sugar doesn’t serve any nutritional purpose, so you’ll want to make sure you’re choosing products with as little sugar as possible.

Fiber

Fiber is extremely important to your health. Not only does it keep you regular, but it can also lower cholesterol and control blood sugar. In fact, it’s so important that the USDA recommends that 14 grams of fiber should be consumed for every 1,000 calories.

Vitamins

Nutrition labels will also contain a list of vitamins that are found in the food, and if you’re interested in healthier foods, you’ll want to make sure that the food contains a high amount of vitamins.

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