Eating for Health: How to Read Nutrition Labels Like a Pro
Eating for health is an excellent decision, but it requires some knowledge of how to read nutrition labels. This article will teach you how to read nutrition labels like a pro, so you can make informed decisions about what you eat.
Step 1: Start with the serving size
The first thing you should look for on a nutrition label is the serving size. This is important because all of the other information on the label is based on this serving size. Make sure you know how much food you are actually eating before you look at the other nutrition information.
Step 2: Check calories
Once you know the serving size, check the number of calories per serving. Calories are a measure of the energy provided by food. If you are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, you should pay attention to the number of calories you are consuming.
Step 3: Look for healthy nutrients
Next, check the amount of important nutrients, such as protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These are crucial for maintaining good health. You want to look for foods that are high in these nutrients and low in unhealthy fats, sodium, and added sugars.
Step 4: Compare % Daily Value
The % Daily Value (DV) is a handy tool to compare the nutrient content of different foods. The % DV tells you how much of a specific nutrient is in a serving of food compared to the daily recommended allowance. For example, if a food has a % DV of 20% for iron, it means that a serving of that food contains 20% of the daily recommended amount of iron for an average adult.
Step 5: Mind the sugar and salt
Added sugars and sodium are two nutrients that many people consume in excess. It’s essential to keep an eye on them. Look at the amount of added sugars on the label and aim to keep your total amount of added sugars per day under 10% of your daily calorie intake. For sodium, try to limit your intake to less than 2,300 milligrams per day.
Step 6: Ingredients matter
The ingredient list tells you exactly what is in a product, and it’s essential to read it carefully. The ingredients are usually listed in descending order, with the most prominent ingredient first. Choose foods with whole foods, whole grains, and simple ingredients, and avoid products that contain artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.
Reading nutrition labels may seem daunting at first, but with practice, it will become second nature. Use these tips to select foods that are nutritious and promote good health. Remember to choose whole, nutrient-packed foods over processed, unhealthy junk food. With a little effort, you can make healthy eating a habit that will benefit you for a lifetime.