One of the most important aspects of staying fit and leading a healthy lifestyle is your diet. Eating a nutritious and balanced diet is highly recommended, but how do you know if something is healthy? You can’t always trust food that’s advertised as healthy—however, the nutrition label will certainly provide greater insight. Grocery store items, from produce to bakery items, are equipped with labels that include nutritional values, as required by the FDA. Nutrition labels can have a lot of confusing information on them—here’s what to look for in food labels to be healthy.
Every nutrition label will include a serving size at the top. The serving size will tell you the recommended amount you should eat per serving and how many servings are included in the package. All of the following nutrition facts on the label will use the recommended serving size. For example, if the serving size in a box of rice is one cup, the calories listed on the box will relate to one cup of rice. Pay attention to serving sizes to avoid overindulging and to properly keep track of your nutrition intake.
Percentage Daily Value
Daily values are the amount of each nutrient you should consume per day. The percentage daily value will highlight the percentage of your daily value you will gain by eating a serving size of the food item. Use this tool to determine how the food item fits into your day. For example, if an item contains 25% DV in sodium, this is considered high, and it may not fit into your meal plans for the day.
Saturated Fat, Sodium, and Added Sugars
Saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars will all be listed on the nutrition label. Look for items low in these areas. This will decrease the risk of diseases such as heart disease. High sugar intake can also make it difficult for you to obtain your daily values under your suggested daily calorie intake.
Vitamins, Minerals, and Fiber
Fiber, potassium, iron, vitamin D, and calcium are imperative to good health. Fruits and vegetables have higher values of these nutrients. Look for nutrition labels with high daily values of these items to improve your healthy eating habits.
Lastly, check the calories listed per serving on the nutrition label. If you’re counting your daily calorie intake, you’ll want to make sure the serving you’re consuming falls within your limit of calories for the day.
Nutrition labels can have a lot of confusing information on them. Maintain a healthy diet with your newfound understanding of what to look for in food labels to stay healthy.