Nutrition Labels 101

February 27, 2020
Nutrition Labels 101

In an effort to make good food choices we often turn to the nutrition label and look at the calories. But calories aren’t the only part of the label that matters to your health. Knowing how to read and understand nutrition labels can help you make healthier choices in the grocery aisles.

Here are some tips for understanding what’s in your food.

Understand the building blocks of a nutrition label.

  • Serving size—how much of the product is recommended to eat in one sitting. This serving size will give you the specified quantity of each of the other elements listed.
  • Calories translate to the energy you will receive from that serving.
  • Nutrients are the building blocks for your body and your health.
  • % Daily value is the percentage of the suggested daily nutrients needed.

Steer clear of added sugars.

  • Naturally occurring sugars are found in fruits and vegetables.
  • Added sugars can be found in most processed foods. Consuming foods high in added sugars can lead to health problems like type two diabetes.
    • Examples of added sugars are: corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose and glucose.
    • Try to limit added sugar consumption to 10% of your daily calories. ¹

Look for foods high in dietary fiber and protein.

  • Fiber helps reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease and complications with diabetes.
    • Some high-fiber foods are bananas, broccoli, oatmeal and almonds.
  • Protein is necessary for your body to function.
    • Black beans, salmon, eggs, and lean cuts of meat are good options.

Be careful if you have diabetes.

  • Diabetics: Pay attention to carbohydrates, which affect your blood sugar.
  • “Sugar free” doesn’t always mean “healthy.” Sometimes there is little difference in the carb count of regular and sugar-free products.

Avoid trans fats.

  • These fats raise your cholesterol and increase your chances of heart disease.
  • Fast foods contain a lot of trans fats, so try to stay clear.
  • People with high cholesterol should avoid trans fats and hydrogenated oils.

QualChoice Can Help

Our QCARE health coaches teach members to set and reach health and well-being goals and provide support on issues like:

  • Improving diet
  • Stopping tobacco use
  • Handling stress
  • Increasing activities

To learn more or enroll call 501.228.7111 or 800.235.7111

NOTE: Programs vary by employer group and benefit plan. Members should check with their benefits administrator.