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If you are like other consumers, you probable look at nutrition labels to understand the contents of the food you buy. You can use this information to make smart choices when purchasing what to eat. But how, exactly do you correctly read nutrition labels? Here are the important parts of the nutrition label and how to read them properly:

Serving Size

Take a look at the serving size specified on the label and then compare it to the actual number of servings you eat per day. If you have two servings of food daily, an important thing to understand is that you will consume twice the amount of calories stated on the label. Additionally, the Daily Value, which is often written as “% DV,” will also be consumed double.

Calories

Another important part of the nutrition label is the amount of “calories.” Compare the number with the nutrients itemized on the label to determine whether or not the product is worth eating. Some foods claim they are nutritious but if the calories are extremely high, you may want to avoid them.

Sugar

The lower the amount of sugar printed on the label, the better. Make sure that the food you want to eat has less sugar. Some products have added sugars, which provide more calories yet fewer nutrients. Go for foods and drinks with low amounts of added sugars. It always helps to read the ingredients list. If it has “added sugars” in the first few lines, the product may not be good for you.

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Caloric sweeteners or added sugars can have different names, including glucose, sucrose, and high-fructose corn syrup. You should also look for names such as fructose, maple syrup, and corn syrup.

Fats

If the food is high in trans and saturated fats, it can increase your risk of heart disease. Also avoid those that are high in cholesterol and go for products with healthy fats, namely monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. They are found in vegetable oils, nuts, and fish.

Many food products have fats but you want them to be in a healthy range. Ideally, fat should be around 20% to 35% based on the number of calories you eat.

Sodium and Potassium

According to research, you should only eat 2,300 mg of salt (sodium) per day. It is equivalent to about a teaspoon of salt, which can help lower your chance of suffering from hypertension or high blood pressure.

If you are older, you are considered to be salt-sensitive, which means you should limit your salt intake to 1,500 mg or less per day. This amount is equal to about teaspoon.

On the other hand, you should consume about 4,700 mg of potassium or more, which is the daily recommendation for the nutrient. Potassium is present in fruits, veggies, low-fat milk, and fat-free products. Nutritionists recommend eating foods that are low in sodium but high in potassium to counter the negative effects of salt on health.

Most foods have much more than one ingredient, so you must take time to read the list. Note that the ingredients listed are in descending order based on their weight on the final product. The ones listed first are in the largest amounts, which is important to read if you have food sensitivities. Next time you visit the grocery store you’ll know how to read the nutrition label!