Food Labels 101

When was the last time you looked at a food and could fully comprehend what you were putting in your body? Today’s food labels are challenging and confusing to read. How are you supposed to know what numbers are and aren’t important? It’s time to crack down on the common food label.

Smart buyers should be paying attention to things like sodium, sugar, and carbohydrates. It’s important that you watch how much sodium you intake so you don’t blood pressure or heart complications. When shopping, pay attention to the amount of milligrams of sodium in products. You generally want to stick to consuming 1500 to 2100 mgs (3/4-1 ½ cup) of sodium a day.  Carbohydrates are a total “food trap”; It looks good on the outside but it can be bad for your body. Excessive amounts of carbs can lead to weigh gain, but there are some positive sides to carbs. Carbohydrates are an excellent source of fiber and help brain focus. It is suggested that athletes receive a good amount of carbs to keep them awake and focused. You want to eat “good” carbs like yogurt, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Sugars are another thing you most definitely need to pay attention to.  Here, don’t just pay attention to the food label; also pay attention to the ingredients. There is such thing as natural, healthy sugars and refined sugars. You will find your refined sugars in most processed foods like fruit snacks, cereals, and even some granola bars! Fruits honey and organic products are where you will find your healthy sugars.

It’s been an apparent problem that food labels are hard to read and some things just don’t stick out.  The Food and Drug Administration recently proposed a new, redesigned food label. Important things like calories and serving size stick out in bigger, bolder print. The Daily Values are in a more organized and clearer column. This way you are more aware of the Percent Daily Values because they are the first thing you read in a row. The FDA aims to make buyers more aware of what they are buying and its nutritional value. Just as First Lady Obama said: “… You as a parent or consumer should be able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf, and be able to tell if it’s good for your family…”

Current Food Label (Left) Proposed Food Label (Right)

Current Food Label (Left)
Proposed Food Label (Right)


M. McLaughlin

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