How To Read Nutrition Labels

Nutrition labels can be your best guide when it comes to making healthy choices. They provide product-specific information that is helpful in making informed decisions on the best food to buy for you and your family, but how do you properly read a nutrition label? Actually, it’s quite easy. Here’s a quick overview that will have you feeling like a pro on what to look for the next time you read a nutrition label.

What is on a nutrition label?

When reading a nutrition label, the first place you’ll want to check out is at the top section. Here is where you’ll find important information including:

1.     Serving size

Check for how many servings are in the package. This amount is typically provided in units, such as cups or pieces. This is followed by a metric amount, such as the number of grams (g). A serving size is the amount one typically consumes—not the recommended amount someone should eat or drink. Typically, you should stick to eating 1-2 serving sizes of a respective food or drink. All the nutrient amounts—including calories—refer to the serving size listed on the label.

2.     Calories

A calorie is a unit of energy; specifically, a measurement of how much energy you receive from a serving of food. You may think that if you consume too many you’ll gain weight. Sufficient daily calories depends on several factors—such as your age, height, weight, sex and activity level. The quality of the calories you consume matters too – calories from unrefined, minimally processed foods such as vegetables and fruits are far better for you than calories from heavily processed foods. Just remember: The number of servings you eat will determine how many calories you’re taking in.

3.     Key nutrients

These can impact your health—in both a positive and negative way—so it’s important to know which ones to eat more of and which ones to limit in your diet.

What Nutrients should I avoid?

Saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars are nutrients that you should cut down on. Were you aware that eating too much saturated fat and sodium can adversely affect your health and put you at risk for cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure? Also, the consumption of too many added sugars could sabotage your efforts when trying to stay within calorie limits.

Which Nutrients are healthy?

Dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium are nutrients you should strive to eat more of. Were you aware that eating foods high in dietary fiber can help to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels as well as reduce your calorie intake? And, by boosting your diet with vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium, you can reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure, anemia, and osteoporosis.

Total vs. added sugars

Total sugars are those that naturally occur in foods and beverages, such as fruit and milk. Added sugars, on the other hand—-like sucrose and dextrose—are added during food processing.

Understanding Percent Daily values (%DV)

We just discussed the importance of increasing nutrients like dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium to your diet. The lower part of a nutrition label is your go-to source when looking for the percentage of daily value (%DV) of each of these nutrients in a serving of the food or beverage, and how it contributes to a total daily diet. The good news is these percentages are calculated for you. All you need to keep in mind are these general rules for %DVs:

  • Low amount equals 5% DV, or less of a nutrient per serving
  • High amount equals 20% DV, or more of a nutrient per serving

Generally, it’s best to select foods that are higher in %DV for dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium and select foods that are also lower in %DV for saturated fat, sodium and added sugars.

How to calculate multiple servings

Consuming more than one serving will increase the number of calories, fat, sugar, cholesterol, and nutrients, as well as the %DVs. For example, if you choose to eat two servings, you will need to double everything across the board.

The New Mayo Clinic Diet makes it easy to eat healthy

Are you ready to show off your nutrition label reading skills? You can put them to good use the next time you’re shopping for your favorite New Mayo Clinic Diet recipe!

The New Mayo Clinic Diet’s flexible meal plans not only fit into any lifestyle, but  are healthy and easy to plan for. With easy-to-find ingredients that are light on your wallet, combined with quick prep times, you’ll be saving money and eating delicious meals while losing weight. Plus, the New Mayo Clinic Diet features a food tracker, so you can easily document all your meals.

Our team of dietitians has developed five different meal plans that allow you to find and follow an eating style that suits your taste and diet preferences. The New Mayo Clinic Diet meal plans encourage eating unlimited servings of fruits and vegetables throughout the day. The sky’s the limit on how you choose to snack on them!

Wondering what a day on a plate looks like? Have a look at a sample of the Original Mayo Clinic Diet meal plan.

Join the Mayo Clinic Diet today!

Join the Mayo Clinic Diet today!

If you’re ready to commit to making a real change in your life, we have a real solution. Start losing weight with the New Mayo Clinic Diet today!

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