Helping to understand food label lingo

3:11 PM, Apr 27, 2013   |    comments
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GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. --  The health messages on food labels are tricky, sometimes too tricky, to understand.  

The lingo on the front of packages draws you in, but it's the back of the package that tells the real story.  Susan Moores, MS, RD, Kowalski's Markets nutritionist, offer tips and shortcuts for translating label lingo and finding healthful foods.

1)      Check the ingredient listing  -- Does it represent what you thought was in the product?   How do package claims stack up with the rest of the ingredients in the food?  Added vitamins or fiber do not necessarily make a food healthy.

2)      Check the serving size.  Is it your serving size?  If not, do the math on how many calories, how much fat, sugar, sodium, etc. are in your portion.

3)      Check the numbers on the Nutrition Facts panel that are important to you (sodium, saturated fat, sugars, etc.) and use the 5-and-20 rule.  If the %DV number is "5" or less there's little of that nutrient in the product.  If it's "20" or more, there's a fair amount of that nutrient in the product.

4)      Put the numbers in context -

  • Fat:  5 grams = 1 teaspoon of fat
  • Sugars  (includes natural and added):   4 grams = 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • Sodium:  General recommendation/day - 2,300 milligrams

Three of the most suspect health claims on food packages: 

  • Made with real fruit
  • Made with whole grains
  • Natural

Check out upcoming Good Foods for Good Health Classes:

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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