Reading Nutrition Labels To Find Healthier Foods

Many Americans rely on processed foods for one or more meals each day. Since these processed foods are packaged by manufacturers, it can be difficult for a consumer to know what they are eating.

Nutrition labels were designed to help you make healthy decisions when choosing processed foods. A nutrition label might look overwhelming, but there are a few important things you can pay attention to that will help you determine the nutritional value of a particular food.

Percentage Of Daily Values

There is a column on most nutrition labels that is defined as % Daily Value. This column lets you know what percentage of your nutritional needs will be met by the food in question.

You need to consume a certain amount of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to maintain optimal health. Nutritionists have determined the amounts of each of these substances required by the average person.

The amount of each vitamin, mineral, or nutrient contained within a processed food is listed by weight. Since this doesn't mean much to the average consumer, the % Daily Value column lets you see how much the food contributes toward meeting your daily nutritional goals.

Added Sugars

The government now requires food manufacturers to list how many added sugars are included in processed foods. Added sugars do not contribute anything toward the nutritional value of the food, they just add calories to your daily diet.

Added sugars can come from syrups, honey, table sugar, or chemical sugars. You want to limit the number of added sugars you are consuming, so opt for foods that have a low added sugar count listed on the nutrition label.

Ingredient List

Most processed foods will contain a list of the ingredients that are included in the food product. You can use this ingredient list to help you determine the nutritional value of the food itself. Ingredients are listed according to their weight. This means that the ingredients near the top of the list are more prevalent than the ingredients listed near the bottom.

Foods that have sugar or high fructose corn syrup listed as one of the first few ingredients probably won't be the most healthy. Opt for foods that have ingredients you recognize to avoid eating overly-processed items.

A nutrition label is a valuable tool in helping you create a healthy and balanced diet. Use the information found on the label to ensure you are meeting vitamin, mineral, and nutrient intake goals, limiting added sugars, and eating foods made from whole ingredients each day. For more information, contact a company like today.