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And many companies know this. So, they throw all kinds of money into fancy marketing labels designed to grab your attention.
They’re not necessarily trying to rip you off. They’re trying to show you why you should buy their product instead of competing options.
But when you take the time to read nutrition labels, you’ll find you actually get practically the same thing with many products, despite the advertising you see.
How do you read a nutrition label anyway? They’re loaded with all kinds of numbers, percentages, and confusing words.
Well, here’s some tips that’ll help you understand what they actually mean:
Start with Serving Size
Every label bases all their info on the size of a “serving.” That can be different for exactly the same product. So when you read labels, make sure you understand the size of a serving so you know how to make a fair comparison among various products.
Fat makes food taste oh-so-good. But as you know, large amounts aren’t healthy for you.
Avoid food with trans fats entirely. Unsaturated fat is healthier for you than saturated fat, so stick with foods with more saturated than unsaturated fat.
Finally, make sure no more than 10% of the calories you’ll consume come from saturated fat.
Large amounts of sodium drive your blood pressure up. That increases your vulnerability to heart disease (the leading cause of death for adult men and women in America) and stroke.
Avoid foods with more than 500mg of sodium per serving.
“Carbs” has almost become a dirty word. But remember, you can eat good carbs and bad carbs.
On nutrition labels, the most important thing about carbs is their source. You’ll see a line that says:
At the bottom of the label, you’ll see “Ingredients.” Here, you can find the source of the carbs.
Simple carbs like enriched or bleached flour are the “bad” carbs. You want to eat “good” carbs from whole sources, like whole wheat, whole grain, oats, and quinoa.
Again, with sugar you look at the source. Labels unfortunately don’t make it easy to understand.
Just know that you want to avoid added sugars, which appear in the ingredients at the bottom of the label. Look for these words:
Men should aim for less than 36 grams of sugar. Women should have less than 25.
Naturally-occurring sugars are fine. Added sugars consumed long-term in high quantities lead to health problems.
Yeah, it takes some work to understand nutrition labels. But now you at least have a solid foundation to begin working from so you can make healthier choices for yourself and your family.