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The Importance of Reading Nutrition Labels: What to Look for When Grocery Shopping

Updated: Jan 14

The information on food labels is meant to help people make better decisions about what to eat. Moreover, there is information on the front, back, and sides of a package that tells us what the food is and how to choose processed foods that are healthier for us. But all the numbers, percentages, and sometimes hard-to-understand ingredients can make things more confusing than they are clear.


This guide will help you make sense of the words and nutrition facts on a food package so you know exactly what you’re buying.


The Label With The Nutrition Information


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is in charge of the Nutrition Facts label. It was first required by the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 to help people make quick, smart food choices. It has been changed, with the most recent change coming out in 2016.


In Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency enforces all health and safety laws under the Food and Drug Regulations. In addition, the Agency is in charge of enforcing non-health and non-safety regulations pertaining to food packaging, labeling, and advertising.


Most changes are based on new scientific information and comments from the public about how easy something is to use. The following things to keep in mind when grocery shopping are;


Fat


Fat has a lot of calories, and it’s important to check if the fat is saturated or unsaturated. Unsaturated fats, which are found in avocado, nuts, seeds, oily fish, and vegetable oils, are better for your heart health than saturated fats, which are found in butter, fatty meats, pastries, cookies, and cakes. When we eat too much saturated fat, our cholesterol goes up, which makes us more likely to get coronary heart disease.

On the nutrition label, there should be both the total amount of fat and the amount of saturated fat. Check the nutrition facts per 100g to find out if the amount of fat is high, medium, or low:


  1. Low fat means: 3 grams or less per 100 grams

  2. High fat means 17.5 grams or more per 100 grams.


Don’t buy snack packs with pre-measured servings. Not only are they more expensive, but they might not even save you calories.

“Remember that fat-free does not mean sugar-free and sugar-free does not mean fat-free,” “Always read the labels to figure out if these snack packs are worth the extra money.”


Serving Size


The size of one serving will be written at the top of the label.

The serving size is used to figure out how many calories and nutrients (carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals) are in each food.

Remember: If you have more than one serving, the information on the panel will grow.

By looking at the serving size, you can compare the foods that give you the most nutrients.

Ingredients are list in order of how much of each one there is in the food.


Look For Things That Are Good For Your Heart:


Oil from olives, canola, avocados, or olive oil


Avoid:


  1. Hydrogenated oil

  2. Partially- hydrogenated oil Sodium


This is the amount of salt in the food plus the sodium from any other ingredients that have sodium in them.


Carbohydrates


Read the total amount of carbs, sugars, salts, and fibers in grams. All of these can influence your purchasing decision and how much sugar is in your blood.


  1. At least 25 grams of fiber should be eaten every day.

  2. When you eat a lot of sugar, your blood sugar level goes up quickly. Try to cut down on how much of these you consume regularly.

  3. When you eat a lot of carbs, your blood sugar will rise.

  4. Watch out for added sugars. In the list of ingredients, these are also called out by name.


Beware Of Salt


Salt is add to a lot of our everyday foods, even ones like omelets, bread, cakes, and cookies that you might not think of as too salty. Always check the label of the salt to make your digestion easy. Over time, if you eat too much salt or add some in your cooked things, your blood pressure can go up instantly. This might lead to heart disease or a stroke. Most of us eat more than the recommend a daily maximum of 6g, which is about one teaspoon.


Most foods have strong labels that say how much salt they have, and for a food to be low in salt, it must have 0.3g or less per 100g (or 0.1g sodium).


Watch out, because some products list sodium instead of salt. To figure out how much salt is in a product, multiply the amount of sodium by 2.5. To make things even more confusing, the amount of sodium is sometimes written in milligrams instead of grams.


In The End


We hope this guide on the importance of nutrition labels would be helpful to you. Now it’s time to make wise decisions when looking for grocery shopping.

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