Reading Labels


What Those Labels Mean

Packaged foods sold in the US are required to have nutrition and ingredient labels on them. 

Read Your Labels

The labels provide much useful information.  You will first see a chart on the side or back of a container that lists nutrients, similar to what I have posted at the start of this newsletter. 

While I'm not a fan of buying packaged foods, sometimes out of necessity, or to purchase needed staples for my pantry I will buy items in packages, cans or jars.

Nutrients & Ingredients

If you look at the labels I posted, you will see the first has a list of nutrients. It shows a serving size in grams - that in itself is confusing because most products are labeled in ounces and it may be difficult to know how many servings are in a container if they are listed in grams. It's like comparing apples to oranges. 
The next thing I look at is the amount of sodium and sugar in the product. Our maximum recommended amount of sodium per day is about 1800 milligrams, so clearly 1 serving of this product would be fine.  Sugar shows up as 6 grams, which is 1 1/2 teaspoons, which again is fine. Total carbohydrates are 36 grams, which may be fine if the carbohydrates are whole grains or vegetables, but not so fine if they are white flour products. And finally protein, 13 grams, is a sufficient amount for a serving. 

Now take a look at the ingredient label (unrelated to the nutrient label; in this case it is merely an example) Right off the top, enriched flour means WHITE flour, a low nutrient food that raises your blood sugar. It gets worse as you go on, as there are virtually no nutrients of value in this food. When you see a label like this, don't buy it. It is nothing but white flour, sugar and many chemical additives, some of which may trigger appetite.