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Tips for Using the Food Label
Most packaged foods have a Nutrition Facts label. Here are some tips for reading the label and making smart food choices:
Check servings and calories. Look at the serving
size and how many servings you are actually eating.
Make your calories count. Look at the calories on
the label and compare them with the nutrients they offer.
Eat less sugar. Foods with added sugars may
provide calories, but few essential nutrients. So, look for foods and
beverages low in added sugars. Read the ingredient list, and make sure
added sugars are not one of the first few ingredients.
Know your fats. Look for foods low in saturated
and trans fats, and cholesterol, to help reduce the risk of heart
disease. Most of the fats you eat should be polyunsaturated and
monounsaturated fats, such as those in fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
Reduce sodium (salt); increase potassium.
Research shows that eating less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium (about 1
tsp of salt) per day may reduce the risk of high blood pressure. Older
adults tend to be salt-sensitive. If you are older adult or
salt-sensitive, aim to eat no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium each
day—the equivalent of about 3/4 teaspoon. To meet the daily potassium
recommendation of at least 4,700 milligrams, consume fruits and
vegetables, and fat-free and low-fat milk products that are sources of
potassium including: sweet potatoes, beet greens, white potatoes, white
beans, plain yogurt, prune juice, and bananas. These counteract some of
sodium’s effects on blood pressure.
Use the % Daily Value (% DV) column: 5% DV or less
is low, and 20% DV or more is high.