Learning To Read Food Labels
Food labels are something you’ll have to take
account of when you go shopping. Food manufacturers are
usually required to provide accurate information about
their products. You can find this information on the
food label, and most of them these days are made to be
easy to read.
Several Elements Are Shown On A Food
The front of the label on the package will tell
you about the brand of the product and what the product
• Information Regarding the
Most food packages will tell you where the food
was made, who imported it (if it was imported) and how
you may contact the manufacturer or importer.
This information might be useful if you want to
contact someone about the exact food value content of a
product or if you have a question or complaint about the
Most food packages contain codes and numbers which contain information about where the product was made and its time. Often, expiry dates are listed close to these numbers. It’s a good practice to glance at expiry dates on your food to make sure that you’re getting fresh food products.
• Logos, Advertisements, and Claims
Many foods will have logos and claims on the front of the label. They may contain terms such as “light,” “the best,” “healthy,” “natural,” etc.. They’ll likely catch your attention when you are looking for heart-healthy choices. However, you should never take this kind of information at face value.
Treat these claims as advertisements rather than as facts. Many foods that claim to be “low-cholesterol” are often full of saturated fats that are terrible for your cholesterol level. Many foods that claim to be “low fat” do still contain plenty of fat or just have small portion sizes.
This is where the information begins to get useful. Almost all packaged products have lists of ingredients used in making the product. To know how really healthy your food is, you should start here. Ingredients are listed in amount order.
That means that if a label reads “peanut butter, sugar, chocolate solids”, the product contains mostly peanut butter, with less sugar than peanut butter, and less chocolate solids than sugar. Ingredients listed in between brackets are ingredients that are part of something else or which contain more information about an ingredient.
For example, if an ingredients list shows “vitamins (thiamin hydrochloride, niacinamide, folic acid)”, then the vitamins in the food consist of thiamin hydrochloride, niacinamide, folic acid. When shopping to lower your cholesterol, always try to read the ingredients list.
Look for foods which contain healthy foods first on the ingredient list, meaning that there are more of these foods. And look for foods having ingredient lists which contain few saturated fats.
• Nutrition Facts
This is where you need to turn your eyes every time you pick up a food you might want to eat. Even if you can’t read most of the ingredients on the ingredient list, even if you are not sure what you are looking for, this is the area of the food label that can help you separate claims from facts.
Food labels in North America now contain a simplified section containing information about the food. This is often found on the side of the box or the back of the food package. This part of the label lists portion sizes, the percent or amount of fat, vitamins and other nutrients the food provides you, and the amounts of fats and calories that the food contains.
This is information you can use. Each time that you pick up a food, look at the label. Check the portion size, the amount of fats and the types of fats in the food.
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