Key Items I Look For: Nutrition Facts Label

      Before the end of National Nutrition Month, I wanted to post a topic that I hope you find helpful while choosing foods to purchase. For starters, purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and seafood is the way to go. I believe these foods, those without labels, to be the healthiest choice. In order to monitor their nutrient content, refer to Supertracker or SELFNutritionData and enter the item to receive its’ facts. 

1.     Calories and Serving Size

  • I always start with a calorie amount in mind and choose an item within that range.
  • Watch out for the serving size. Companies have become clever in identifying their foods as low calorie, but the serving size is far too small. For example, you decide to buy some low calorie crackers, but the serving size is only 5 crackers.

2.     Fats

  • High fat items do not need to be completely avoided until you know the type of fat.
  • Limit saturated fat and avoid trans fat.
  • Unsaturated fats (poly and mono) are a healthy choice.

3.     Carbs

  • I do not follow the latest fad that limits carbohydrate intake; your body needs this energy source.
  • A product that is whole grain, high in dietary fiber, and high in carbohydrates resembles a good choice.
  • A product where the grams of sugar are almost identical to the grams of carbohydrate should be avoided. 

4.     Protein

  •  This part relies on your personal intake and whether or not you have reached your protein needs elsewhere.
  • The recommended intake is 0.8g per kg of body weight; however, specific populations require more.

5.     Ingredients

  • These are listed in order of quantity.
  • A product with an ingredient list that runs along the entire packaging is an item I avoid. This indicates an overwhelming amount of unnatural substances.
  • As of now, I avoid high fructose corn syrup and aspartame. Some current research states consumption of these to be safe; however, I am not entirely convinced.

Seek the help of a registered dietitian for individual nutrient requirements.

- Patrick Berner, SPT