March is National Nutrition Month and being able to pick out nutritious food compared to not so nutritious food can be difficult. It is important to be able to have the knowledge and tools available when conquering the grocery store. Food labels can be extremely confusing, but here are some tips to help you navigate them!
- Check the serving size. Start out with reading the serving size (amount for one serving) and also check the amount of servings per package. What is the difference between serving size and portion size? Serving size is the recommendation and portion size is what we choose to put on our plate. If you are doubling or tripling the serving size then that means more calories, fat, and other nutrients. Be sure to check out the fat and calorie content. If you are trying to shed a few pounds it is important to cut back on calories and fat.
- Be aware of the daily values. Use the percent daily values (DV) as a guide for the foods you choose for your daily meal plan. The daily value nutrients are based on a person consuming 2,000 calories per day. The DV are percentages that line up with calorie intake and that varies between individuals. Daily Values are also for the entire day, not just for that particular meal or snack. Some individuals may need more or less than 100% DV nutrients per day. A general guideline for Daily Values is, a food that is 5% is low, and 20% is high. Be sure to aim low for fat, cholesterol, and sodium!
- Limit fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Consuming too many of these nutrients may contribute to heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. Polyunsaturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and saturated fat make up total fat, which should be limited to 100% DV or less per day.
- Incorporate more vitamins, minerals, and fiber in your diet. Eating foods rich in vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron can help in maintaining good health and reduce the risk of certain health problems. Fiber is in whole grains so looking for the fiber content in these products will be essential. Aim high in DV for these nutrients, and make sure to eat more fruits and vegetables!
- Helpful terms:
- Low calorie — Less than 40 calories per serving.
- Low cholesterol — Less than 20 mg of cholesterol and 2 gm or less of saturated fat per serving.
- Reduced — 25% less of the specified nutrient or calories than the usual product.
- Good source of — Provides at least 10% of the DV of a particular vitamin or nutrient per serving.
- Calorie free — Less than 5 calories per serving. • Fat free / sugar free — Less than 1⁄2 gram of fat or sugar per serving.
- Low sodium — Less than 140 mg of sodium per serving.
- High in — Provides 20% or more of the Daily Value of a specified nutrient per serving.
- High fiber — 5 or more grams of fiber per serving.
Source: eatright.orgNational Nutrition Month! by PDCM Insurance