What to Look for on a Nutrition Label

By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern

When you’re at the store purchasing food to stock in your fridge, freezer, and pantry, how often do you look at the nutrition label on the back? If you don’t already, I would suggest that you do, as there is a lot of helpful information contained on that label as to the health of the food. Although it may seem like just a bunch of hard-to-pronounce words, numbers, and percentage signs, these labels ought to carry some weight when it comes to the foods that you choose to feed your family.

Food Labels

Make sure you understand these commonly used terms on food labels (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

According to registered dietician Stephanie Grasso, carefully looking at nutrition labels is an important part of maintaining a balanced diet. Luckily, interpreting these labels is actually very simple. Grasso says that the first place to start is by looking at the number of calories in a serving of that food. Next, she says to look at the carb-to-protein ratio. Foods that are high in protein are good because they regulate blood sugar and keep you feeling satisfied longer. But, if it is a high-carb food, then she suggests making sure that it also has a lot of fiber so that it still helps to keep you full.

When it comes to nutrients, the percent daily values are a good place to look. But sometimes these can be confusing, because how much is a good amount for each of these nutrients? Grasso has the perfect tip for determining if those percentages indicate if the food is high or low in specific nutrients. If the percentage is 20% or higher, then it is a high source of that nutrient, and anything that is 5% or lower is considered low.

With that being said, next time that you are out grocery shopping, keep these tips in mind when checking nutrition labels so that you can be confident that the foods that you’re feeding your families are providing them with the right nutrition!

For more grocery shopping tips, check out these articles from Fill Your Plate!

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