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Learning To Read Food Labels - 2

The amount of saturated and trans fats should be very small and the portion size should be large.

For example, consider a serving of cream. For a 15 ml serving (one tablespoon) the cream has 1 gram of saturated fat. While the amount of fat is small, the serving is small, too, meaning that the product is actually 8% fat.

Soya milk, a much better alternative, has 1 gram of saturated fat in a two cup serving, making it much lower in saturated fat. When making healthy choices, check this part of every food for the following:

Serving Size: This will tell you whether your food is really healthy or whether it just appears so due to a very tiny portion size.

Fat/Lipids: Look at the gram amount of trans and saturated fat. The lower it is the better. The lower the overall amount of fat, the better.

Sodium: Look for food that contains as little as possible.

Calories: Choosing lower calorie food is better for your heart, your cholesterol level, and your overall health.

Fiber: Foods high in fiber are good for your health and cholesterol levels.

Cholesterol: Foods which are lower in dietary cholesterol.

Percentage: The right hand side of many labels will tell you what percentage of the “recommended daily value” the food does represent.

For example, a product may claim to provide 30% of a day’s recommended daily value in iron. This means that one serving size of the food will give 30% of the fiber you need for the day.

When shopping for food, make sure to choose food that has the lowest percentages for values such as sodium, cholesterol, and fat, and moderate percentages for values such as fibre. This will help ensure that you are making a heart-healthy choice.

You might notice that a number of foods do not contain food labels at all. Foods sold in bulk, fresh produce, home-made foods, e.g. foods sold at bake sales or at farmer’s stands, and prepared foods in restaurants and cafeterias don’t have these labels.

In the case of fresh products and some bulk foods like dried legumes, lentils and spices, this does not always matter, because you generally know that these foods are healthy and contain no fat, cholesterol, or other harmful elements. On the other hand, no food labels are a good reason to avoid restaurant and take-out meals, because you have no control or choice over how much food you are eating.

If you really want to know how much fat, sodium, fibre, and cholesterol you are eating in food that comes with no label, you might want to invest in food guides that estimate how much fat, calories, and other components are in the more common food products.

Some restaurants have even begun to offer ingredient lists and food value information about their meals, but this information isn’t always easy to find. It’s sometimes posted in the kitchen or on the restaurant web page.

In the future, it is possible that more restaurants will offer patrons this information so that diners can make more informed decisions about what they are eating.

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