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Your Guide to Nutrition Labels

By Ali Struhs
August 10, 2014

Deciphering the label on the back of your cereal box can be a daunting task. Are you actually eating two servings by mistake and hindering your weight loss goals? Learning how to read a nutrition label properly can help support you in making healthy choices. With so much information on a small nutrition label, here’s a guide to breaking it down and understanding it all.

Check the serving size
Start at the very beginning. A small bag of nuts may actually be two servings. Be sure to read the serving size, so you can accurately track your portions and the nutrition content. Measuring your portion will help you determine how many calories, fat, and sodium you are consuming each day.

Get your Daily Value
The Daily Value (DV) is a percentage of nutrients based on a person eating a 2,000 calorie diet. Remember this value is for the whole day and not just for breakfast or dinner. If the label says the serving size contains 5% of your daily value of fat or sodium based on a 2,000 calorie diet, adjust the percentage or portion accordingly to your calorie needs.

Count calories and fat
The next part of the label you should pay attention to is the amount of calories and fat in the product. Taking note of these numbers, especially while calculating the daily value, can help you cut back to meet your weight loss goals.

Note other nutrients
Underneath the calories and fat, the nutrition label lists other nutrients like cholesterol, sodium, protein and carbohydrates. Just like harmful fats, limit your consumption of cholesterol and sodium for overall optimum health. Eat foods with healthy carbohydrates, like those found in whole grains, protein and fiber to aid your weight loss goals.

View the vitamins and minerals
The next element of the label includes a list of vitamins and minerals, like calcium and Vitamin A. Choose foods high in vitamins and minerals to make sure you’re getting your recommended daily value.

List the ingredients
Lastly, a nutrition label will also list all of the ingredients in the food. Ingredients will be listed in descending order of the amount in the product. The first ingredient is the most prevalent in the food. The list is particularly helpful if you are allergic to a particular food item.

Learning how to read nutrition labels is an important part of any healthy diet plan. Use these tips to make informed choices about what to eat.

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