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January 08, 2018 06:13 PM

How To Read Nutrition Labels

While many foods are labeled as healthy or are low in calories, not all of them are good for you.  Serving size and ingredient labels often get overlooked, but can be the most important part in deciding what is nutritious for you.

Taking a moment to turn an item around and read what's inside may seem too time consuming, but dietitians say you should do it.

"If it's something new that I haven't bought before, I look to see how many calories there are, and I do look at some of the ingredients" Sandra Solberg said. 

Solberg's sister has Celiac disease so checking the ingredient label is crucial when she's cooking for her. 

"So when I know she's going to be around or I'm fixing it for her I look to see, well I guess that would be more the ingredients," Solberg said.

The FDA is now requiring a new Nutrition Facts label on most packaged food, highlighting specific areas.

"They bolded the calories so you can really see what the calories are, and the other part is they bolded the serving size. A lot of people used to miss the serving size on a product because it used to be really small," registered dietitian Anna Heronimus said. 

Companies have until 2020 to comply with the new design, but some have already begun.

"They've added the added sugars now to products. So not only is it going to say the six grams of sugar, now it's going to tell you how many grams of added sugar, which is really great if you're watching how much sugar intake you should be doing," Heronimus said.

The ingredient list should also receive special attention before an item goes into your cart. 

When reviewing the ingredient list on the back of your product, those listed first will have the highest percentage inside your product.

"Look at it and see how much whole grains it might have; where the sugar lays in the ingredient label. If it's the first ingredient that means it's going to have a lot more sugar than you probably want," Heronimus said.

Heronimus added that when a product says low-fat that's only referring to one serving size, so be aware of your portions.

"Grab a package of Wheat Thins, it says 16 crackers a serving size. Just go ahead take out 16 crackers and put the box away before you eat the rest of it," Heronimus said. 

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