Reading Food Labels
Food labels give you the information you need to decide how a
particular product fits into your calorie budget and your diet plan.
Follow these five steps to scrutinize a food label. They will become
second nature in no time.
up the serving. The nutrient information on food labels is for the
serving size listed, so be sure to compare the serving size to how much
YOU actually eat. (For instance, a can of soup that you consider one
lunchtime serving may actually contain two servings if you consult the
label.) If you eat more or less than the serving listed, you'll need to
adjust the nutritient information up or down.
over the Daily Values. Daily Value information at the very bottom of
the label is a handy reminder of the suggested daily amounts of key
nutrients for two different calorie levels: 2,000 and 2,500 calories.
Some Daily Values identify the maximum daily amounts, such as for fat,
cholesterol, and sodium, while others -- carbohydrate and fiber -- are
target amounts. Remember, if your calorie needs are less than 2,000
calories, these maximum daily amounts will be lower.
your choices with the % Daily Values. The % Daily Values make it easy
to judge the nutritional quality of a food. As a quick guide, 5% Daily
Value or less is considered low, and 20% Daily Value or more is high.
For nutrients you need to limit, such as fat and sodium, choose plenty
of foods with 5% Daily Value or less. For nutrients you need more of,
such as calcium and iron, look for foods with 10% to 20% Daily Value or
- Rely on
the adjectives. Descriptors on food labels, such as "low," "high," and
"free," have legal definitions. This means that a food product must
contain a defined amount of the specific nutrient before the label can
boast about the food's nutritional merits. For example, a low-fat food
can have no more than three grams of fat in the serving size noted on
- Browse the ingredient list. It displays the food's ingredients in order by weight and is useful for finding out the main ingredients.
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This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.