Buying healthy foods for your family relatives is easier, when you know what types of food you may buy inthe shop. You have got likely seen the Nutrition Facts label on many food meal packages. The label states what number of energy/calories and how much saturated fat, trans fat, dietary fiber, cholesterol,vitamins and other nutrients are in each serving. Once you know how to use the Nutrition Facts label, be sure to read them as you shop. Look at the serving size and servings per container of the foods you may buy. Compare the total calories in similar products and choose the lowest calorie items.
Why the Nutrition Facts Label Is Important
- Check servings and calories. Look at the serving size and how many servings the package contains. If you eat one serving, the label clearly outlines the nutrients you get. If you eat two servings, you double the calories and nutrients, including the Percent Daily Value (% DV). The Daily Value is how much of a specific nutrient you need to eat in a day. Percent Daily Value tells you how much of a nutrient is in one serving of food compared to the amount you need each day.
- Make your calories count. Look at the calories on the label and note where the calories are coming from (fat, protein, or carbohydrates). Compare them with nutrients (like vitamins and minerals) to decide whether the food is a healthy choice.
- Don't sugar-coat it. Sugars add calories with few, if any, nutrients. Look for foods and beverages low in added sugars. Read the ingredient list and make sure that added sugars are not one of the first few ingredients. Some names for added sugars include sucrose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, maple syrup, and fructose.
- Know your fats. Look for foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol to help reduce the risk of heart disease (5% DV or less is low, 20% DV or more is high). Keep total fat intake between 20% to 35% of calories.
- Reduce sodium (salt), increase potassium. Research shows that eating less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium (about one teaspoon of salt) per day might reduce the risk of high blood pressure. Most of the sodium people eat comes from processed foods, not from the salt shaker. Also, look for foods high in potassium (tomatoes, bananas, potatoes, and orange juice), which cancels out some of sodium's effects on blood pressure.
When using the Nutrition Facts label as a guide, try these tips:
- Keep these low: saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, and sodium
- Get enough of these: potassium, fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron
- Use the Percent Daily Value (% DV) column when possible; 5% DV or less is low, 20% DV or more is high
More information for Understand and Use Nutrition Fact
- How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label — This fact sheet explains how to use nutrition labels to make quick, informed food choices that contribute to a healthy diet.