Nothing can be more confusing then the nutrition labels on the cereal box. Is it really healthy or not.
In celebration of the fact that March is Nutrition Month, we gathered a few tips on how to read those nutrition labels from our friends at MetroHealth and the hospital’s Healthy Living Blog.
Understanding what’s in your food can help you maintain a healthy, balanced diet. All of the information on nutrition labels can be overwhelming, so here are five things to look for.
- Serving size and servings per container. These are the first things listed on the label. Be aware of how many servings are in a package because an item that seems like a single serving could actually contain two or three, causing you to consume double or triple the amount of calories listed.
- Percent Daily Value. This is the percent listed on the right side of the label. Everyone should eat a certain amount of each nutrient daily to stay healthy. This number tells you the fraction of the daily amount that is in one serving. A serving with 5 percent or less is considered low, and 20 percent or more is considered high. You will also notice a footnote at the bottom of the label that states “daily values are based off a 2,000 or 2,500 calorie diet”, so depending on how many calories you consume daily you may need to adjust these amounts.
- Total, saturated, and trans fat. Try to limit the amount of saturated and trans fat in your diet because it can increase your risk of heart disease and high cholesterol. The average individual should eat less than 20 grams of saturated fat per day and zero grams of trans fat. Be aware that companies are allowed to list the amount of trans fat as zero grams if it contains less than half a gram per serving. Check the ingredients list for items that contain trans fat, like partially hydrogenated oils.
- Cholesterol. The average person should eat less than 300 milligrams per day.
- Fiber and Nutrients. Nutrients like fiber, Vitamin A and C, Calcium, and Iron can improve your health, but most people do not consume enough of them daily. Try to eat foods with high amounts of these nutrients to maintain a balanced diet.
If you have any questions or concerns about the amount of nutrients you are eating daily, contact your primary care physician to talk through your diet and daily nutrition goals.