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Taking the Confusion out of Nutrition Labels

The nutrition label is a wealth of information about a food. It gives you information about the serving size, calories and nutrients contained in each serving.

When reading nutrition labels, it’s important to know what you’re looking at and what the numbers mean. Here are some tips for understanding nutrition labels:

Look at the serving size: This is the amount that manufacturers have determined is one serving size of a food item. It’s not always equal to one package or container of food. If a serving size is one cupcake, for example, it’s likely that there are two or three servings in the whole box. So when you’re reading a label, make sure you know how many servings are in a package — otherwise you’ll be accidentally consuming more calories than you think!

Check out the calories: This number on the label is how many calories are in each serving of that food or drink. A calorie is simply a measurement of energy needed by your body to perform all its functions (such as breathing). Common sources of calories include fat, protein and carbohydrates — all three are necessary for good health because they provide essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.

Learn about fats: Fat has long been vilified by health experts because high-fat diets can lead to weight gain and heart disease. But not all fats are created equal! Healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids can actually help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation. Always look for healthier oils like olive, flax, fish, coconut, etc and avoid hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. 

Look for shorter ingredient lists

Avoid artificial flavors and colors

Avoid high fructose corn syrup

Look for high fiber, whole grains and low sodium foods

Label reading can be very confusing and time consuming. There are various health and nutrition claims found on packaging that can make a product look healthy, when the reality is often the opposite. Take the time to read and decide what products are actually worth buying and eating.