Decoding nutrition labels
How can you tell if a food is healthy? Reading the nutrition label is a good start, but it can be overwhelming. Lindsay Smore, RDN, shared some tips to help you understand what to look for when reading the nutrition facts found on labels.
- Serving size is based on the amount that is typically consumed in one sitting.
- For a snack, 150–200 calories is typically appropriate, while a meal should be about 350–400 calories.
- Saturated fats are unhealthy fats, usually found in animal products. Limit yourself to 5 grams or less of saturated fats per serving.
- Unsaturated fats are considered healthier fats.
- Monounsaturated fats are found in avocados, almonds, cashews, peanuts and cooking oils.
- Polyunsaturated fats are found in fish seeds and nuts.
- Omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated. Omega-3, found in oily fish, walnuts and seeds, helps to reduce inflammation. Omega-6, found in cooking oil, dairy and eggs, helps to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol.
- Trans fats, or hydrogenated oils, are found in processed foods and margarine.
- This includes fiber, total sugars, added sugars and sugar alcohols. For reference, four grams of sugar is equal to one teaspoon.
- Five grams or more of fiber is good per serving.
- Not all carbohydrates are bad. Aim to make all starches whole grains and try to avoid added sugars.
- Protein will help to keep you full.
- It promotes weight loss by fueling your muscle.
- Five grams or more of protein are good per serving.
- People with high blood pressure need to watch their sodium intake and stay at less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day.
- Sodium intake is important even if you do not have high blood pressure. You still want to stay at less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day.
- Aim for less than 200 milligrams of sodium in a single product.
- Aim for less than 600 milligrams of sodium per meal.
Find a doctor
Whether you’re looking for a primary care physician or need to see a specialist, we’re here to help with experienced, compassionate care near you.Find a Doctor