03/13 Health & Wellness Tip – Nutrition Label

Current_Label_notitle_NFL_3.24.14Last week’s tip spoke about eating more whole foods and less processed foods. Reality is that we will still eat some processed foods. Knowing that, we should become well-versed at reading the nutrition label on packages.

There are plenty of sites where you can learn the basics about reading the label. The American Heart Association and US Food and Drug Administration have good information about how to understand the nutrition label. And it is worth knowing how to really read and understand the label, so take a couple minutes to read these articles. If you prefer to watch a video, go to KidsHealth.org or WebMD.com.

Reviewing the nutrition label can be time-consuming, especially when you are new to this and look at the label of everything you pick up. So, how can you save some time when you go to the grocery store?

Ingredients – Take a quick glance at the ingredient list

  • Less is more. When I see a long list, the package goes back on the shelf
  • What is it? When I’m in doubt, I don’t buy it
  • Can you pronounce it? Some of the ingredients really scare me just when I try to say them

Fiber – I strive to eat a high-fiber diet so this is something I always look at

  • I typically want at least 3g of fiber per serving
  • I prefer natural fiber opposed to added fiber
    Example, yogurt is naturally going to have 0 fiber. If the fiber shows as more than 0, I look at the ingredient list to know what was added to give the yogurt fiber
  • Animal proteins don’t have fiber

Once you’ve bought something, look at the label more in-depth at home to understand the serving size and other nutrition details. You might decide that this is something you don’t want to buy again. That is OK. Enjoy it this time and then scratch it from your list going forward.

Now, here are two VERY important points to know.

  1. Trans fat will show as 0g so long as the amount per serving is less than .5g
  2. Look for hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated in the ingredient list to know if there are Trans Fats in this food

  3. Sugar will show as 0g as long as the amount per serving is less than .5g
  4. Avoid corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup

Do you think serving sizes may be based on keeping these numbers below .5g so that the label can show 0g for Trans Fat and/or Sugar?

by Michele Spear