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  • Writer's pictureErick Rivas

The Essential Guide to Reading Food Labels for a Healthier Life

In today's fast-paced world, convenience often wins over health, and having a healthy diet may seem like an impossible feat. Food is everywhere, and choosing the best one for our health can be a bit daunting. Nutrition labels, also known as food labels, are there to help us make better-informed choices. These labels provide important information that can help us identify and choose the best products for our health goals. In this post, we'll cover the essential guide to reading food labels, so you can make healthier and more informed choices.

Serving Size and Servings per Container

The serving size is the first thing you should check on the nutrition label. The serving size will determine the number of calories and nutrients per serving, and it is important to note that this may differ from the portion sizes you eat. The next item to check is the number of servings per container. The serving size and servings per container allow you to calculate the total number of calories and nutrients in the entire package.

The Ingredients List

The next thing you should take note of is the ingredient list. Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight, so the first ingredient is the most predominant. You should look out for added sugars, sodium, and unhealthy fats such as trans-fat. If any of these are listed as one of the first three ingredients, it's best to avoid the product. It is also important to note that if you aren't familiar with an ingredient listed or can't pronounce it, it's best to avoid the product as well. Look for products that are made with whole food ingredients.

Calories and Macronutrients

Calories are the measurement of energy that food provides, and it is essential to be aware of the calories per serving. What you may think is one serving, may actually be multiple servings, consequently increasing your calorie intake dramatically. Macronutrients are the nutrients needed in larger amounts and include protein, carbohydrates, and fats. The nutrition label will provide the amount of each macronutrient in grams per serving, which can be useful for those tracking their diet.

Fiber and Sugar

Fiber is an essential nutrient that helps support digestive and heart health. The nutrition label provides the amount of fiber per serving, and it is essential to choose products with higher fiber content. Sugars should also be checked, as added sugars can lead to many health problems. It's best to avoid products with added sugars and opt for natural sugars found in whole foods such as fruits.

Certifications and Claims

Certifications and claims on the label can be useful indicators of quality. For instance, a product with the 'USDA Certified Organic' label indicates that it's free from harmful chemicals and pesticides. Claims such as 'gluten-free', or 'non-GMO' can also be beneficial in making healthier choices. Additional certifications to look for are 'Pasture Raised,' or 'Certified Humane.' These claims ensure that the animal products you are consuming come from animals raised ethically and in a humane environment.

It's essential to understand that food labels are not just colorful designs on the packaging. They provide vital information that can help us make informed choices about what we consume, and in today's world, this is more important than ever. By utilizing the knowledge we shared in this post, you can make healthier choices and lead a healthier lifestyle. Remember to check the serving size, ingredient list, calories, and macronutrients, fiber and sugar content, and certifications and claims. Keep reading those food labels and make the best choices for your health.

Erick Rivas

Integrative Nutrition Health Coach



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