Become a Food-Label Pro!

Whether you’re looking to lose weight or lower cholesterol, learning to read food labels can help you get closer to your health goal. 

Health Monitor Staff
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With all the info found on food labels these days, it may seem like you have to be a dietician—or mathematician!—to zero in on the facts and figures that matter to you. But don’t despair: Just find your health goal below for the deciphering tricks that’ll turn you into a food-label pro!

Do you want to. . .

Shed some pounds? Check the calories.
Here’s a general guide:

  • 40 is low; 100 is moderate; 400 or more is high
  • Check serving sizes: You may be surprised at how many seemingly “single size” bags and boxes contain multiple servings!

Reduce your cholesterol? Home in on fats.
Trans fats and saturated fat—key players in raising blood cholesterol and the risk of heart disease—are included in the total fat. Play it safe by picking foods with a total fat content measuring 5% or less. And avoid any foods with trans fats.

Lower your blood pressure? Look at the sodium.
Foods with a sodium content that’s 5% of your daily allowance or less are considered low-sodium and heart-healthy additions to your diet.

Improve your digestion? Zoom in on fiber.
Eating enough fiber (particular soluble fiber) can promote healthy bowel function. Look for labels with at least 10% as a “good” source of dietary fiber, or a 20% daily value or higher as an “excellent” source. Bonus: Soluble fiber also slows digestion and keeps you feeling fuller longer, helping you lose weight.

January 2014