NORMAN — Q: I lead a very busy lifestyle and am constantly on the go. For this reason, I try to bring snacks with me and eat when I can.
I look at Nutrition Fact Labels as often as possible to help me decide which food choices are the healthiest, but sometimes I don’t even know what to look for.
Is there an easy way for me to navigate this information?
A: I think it is great that you are health conscious and eager to choose the best foods to fuel your body with. Nutrition Fact Labels (NFL) contain a lot of information and I see why this may be confusing.
Here are a few tips and key things to look for when reading an NFL:
· Start at the top where it says “Serving Size” and “Servings per Container.” This information is unique to each product and dictates the number of calories and other nutrient amounts listed on the label. In the sample label, one serving equals 1 cup; however, there are two servings per container. Therefore, if you consume the whole package the amount of calories and other nutrients will be doubled.
· The amount of calories is a measure of how much energy the food provides. A general guide to navigate calories based on a 2,000-calorie diet is as follows: 40 is low, 100 is moderate and 400 or more is high.
· The nutrients in this label are separated into two groups: “Limit these Nutrients” in yellow and “Get enough of these Nutrients” in blue. You will see “Saturated Fat” and “Trans Fat” listed below “Total Fat.” These two items are indented, meaning that their values are included in the “Total Fat” category. Eating too much of these nutrients in yellow may increase your risk of certain chronic diseases and, therefore, should be limited.