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Read the Label

September 21, 2012

On a recent trip to the grocery store, I noticed a new yogurt product that boasts it is a simple item, made with few ingredients. This claim, of course, caused me to inspect the ingredient list on normal yogurt. Ordinary yogurt has a longer list of ingredients, among them the dreaded high fructose corn syrup.

Based on the listed ingredients, the shopper might be inclined to go for the newer, simpler alternative.

Yet a brief glance at the Nutrition Facts label displayed a rather alarming content of saturated fat (nearly a quarter of the estimated daily value!).

It was a sudden, strong reminder to always check the Nutrition label.

Are you reading the Nutrition Facts label when you go grocery shopping? If not, it might be something to consider, particularly since a recent study found that women who read the labels weigh nearly nine pounds less than women who do not read the labels. This finding makes it seem worthwhile to check the health of the food you are eating.

Here are a few things to make sure to look for when reading the labels:

  • Check the serving size, particularly if you are eating a product that appears to be a single serving. If you are looking at an item that is intended to be consumed in one sitting, yet the serving size for the container is two, then the nutritional data is actually double in amount.
  • Always look at the amount of saturated and trans fats. There are two reasons to check this amount. First, these fats are not very good for you, and should be limited. Second, because even if an item has a low amount of these fats, this means you want to check for a different trap: a large amount of sugar. (Many foods that are fat free use sugar to make the food taste good.)
  • At the bottom of the label is further information about the dietary advice listed on the label. This information is a general daily value, in grams and milligrams, for the main categories which have the approximate percent of the estimated daily value information. An important thing to note about this information is that the fat, cholesterol and sodium amounts have “less than” next to them. This wording is specified because the professionals consulted for the nutrition facts label recommend that a man/woman who is aiming to eat the estimated daily values aim to keep their intake of these items lower, if possible. Potassium, carbohydrates and dietary fiber, on the other hand, do not have these words beside them; this omission is because professionals recommend the opposite suggestion for these items – that is, they recommend that individuals eat at least that amount of those items for a healthy diet.
  • The nutritional facts on the label are based on the 2,000 calorie diet that it is recommended the average woman maintain. Your needs, however, might differ from this average recommendation, based on factors such as your height, age, how active you are, etc. To calculate your specific daily needs, you can go this website.

Paying attention to these points on the Nutrition Facts label will help you with healthier eating. Happy grocery shopping!

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One Comment
  1. Wow that was strange. I just wrote an really long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.

    Anyways, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

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