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Understanding Food Labels (And What to Avoid for Heart Health)

Reading and understanding food labels is essential to making the best possible decisions for your health and that of your family. The kind of information that is divulged in food labels can vary from product to product (when you factor in serving size, calories, nutrient information, etc.). Yes, it’s a lot to take in.

Let’s break it down.

It can be difficult to understand food labels - there’s tons of information there, from ingredients to serving sizes/portions and it can be hard to decipher.

Typically, food labels will give you the following info:

● the name of the product

● the brand name

● what ingredients it contains (listed in order from largest to smallest by weight)

● nutritional information (such as average amount of energy, fat, protein, sugars and salt)

● use-by or best-before date

● details of the manufacturer

● how much it weighs

● information for people with food allergies

● a list of food additives

● directions for use and storage

● the country where the food was produced

There are also certain ingredients located on a nutrition label that you’ll want to consume less of, which includes saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars.

Consuming too much saturated fat and sodium comes with an increased risk of cardiovascular issues like high blood pressure. In terms of nutrients you want more of, you’ll want to look for Dietary Fiber, Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, and Potassium.

A diet that’s rich in dietary fiber can increase the frequency of bowel movements, lower blood glucose and cholesterol levels, and reduce calorie intake. Diets high in vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium can reduce the risk of developing problems like anemia and high blood pressure.

Overall, you’ll want to just avoid overly processed junk foods and really try to maintain balanced meals on a regular basis. By avoiding things like saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars, you’ll be able to make much better decisions in the future when it comes to food!

Remember, if you don’t know what the ingredient is - look it up! :)

~ Shelly

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