Video: Nadine Burke, “Read Labels”
By WorldLink Staff | January 23, 2014 | 3 Comments
The package says “All Natural,” “Organic” and “Fat Free,” so it must be healthy, right? Not so fast.
In this video, pediatrician Nadine Burke reminds us to always read the Nutrition Facts label on the back of a package. As the good doctor puts it: “It’s your body. Figure out what’s going into it.”
Do You Know What’s In Your Food?
Learning to read nutrition labels means taking charge of your health. To make more informed food choices, follow these simple steps:
- Read the ingredients list first. In general, the fewer ingredients the better. Keep in mind that ingredients are listed in order of predominance, so if sugar (or some unpronounceable additive that sounds like a chemistry experiment) shows up in the top few spots, think twice about putting that product in your shopping cart. Remember, you might find sugar hiding in a product’s ingredient list under a variety of names—sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, fructose, glucose, dextrose, sucrose, honey, molasses, and evaporated cane juice among them. (And many foods include several sugars, which results in their being listed lower in the list.)
- Check the sodium content. Limiting sodium is important because too much sodium increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes. Food labels recommend that the average American adult should consume about 2,000 calories per day, and the Institute of Medicine recommends an upper limit of 2,300 milligrams of daily sodium intake for healthy, young, white adults and 1,500 milligrams for most other adults. To make it easy, let’s say the ratio of sodium to calories should be about 1:1. So if a product contains 100 calories per serving, it should also contain about 100 milligrams of sodium—or, better yet, less.
- Check the fat content. Because fats of all types are easily stored by the body, too much dietary fat can make us overweight and lay the foundation for a host of other problems, including heart disease, cancer, and adult-onset diabetes. In addition to checking the number of calories per serving, check the number of calories from fat: If it’s more than 30 percent of the total calories, it’s higher than the USDA recommends. Don’t be fooled by front-of-the-box claims such as “99% fat free!,” which are based on percentage of weight, not percentage of calories.
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- How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label, from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
- Guide to the Nutrition Facts Label, from the American Institute for Cancer Research
- Reading Food Nutrition Labels, from the American Heart Association
- 5 Ways to Decode Food Labels at the Grocery Store, from Oprah