Do you read the nutrition labels on your food? By law, food manufacturers are required to display nutritional information on all food products so that consumers are able to make an informed choice when it comes to the foods that they eat.
Knowing how to read nutrition labels and understanding the amount of calories and fat in a food product, and not relying on labels such as low-fat, low-calorie or healthy is key to a healthy diet. Here’s all you need to know about nutrition labels.

Serving Size

Pay attention to the serving size or number of servings noted on the nutrition label. Often, the recommended serving size is smaller than the serving size you may eat, and so you could consume more calories and fat than you might have first thought. Weigh your food out if needed to make sure you’re eating the recommended serving size.

Calories and Fat

Calories and fat are probably the most important things to take note of on any food label. Most food products will give you a total calories number and a calories per serving number, if applicable, but if not, you may have to work out the calorie content of the food yourself by dividing the total calories number by the number of servings in the product.
Keep in mind that the calories in the product may not be the total calories for your meal – for example, if you’re looking at the label on a jar of pasta sauce, you’ll also have to add the calories for the pasta to know exactly how many calories you’ll be eating in that meal.
The total fat number provides you with how much fat is in the product in total. This is a good number to look at at a glance, when you’re in the supermarket, but if you have more time try to look at what that fat is made up of. Monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and omega-3 fats are heart healthy fats that could help to lower your bad cholesterol and increase your good cholesterol, and they are also good for your heart, whilst saturated, hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated trans fats are thought to be the worst fats for our health. Try to opt for foods that contain more good fats than bad fats.

Sodium and Sugar

Sodium and sugar are often hidden in processed foods and if you don’t look at food labels, you may find that you are eating more of these ingredients than is healthy. Sodium is basically salt and it is found in all sorts of foods, such as tinned soup, tuna and sauces, whilst sugar is found in many savoury and sweet foods.
Both ingredients are often found in foods labelled low-fat or healthy as they are flavour enhancers, but when you eat too much of them, they are not good for you. Opt for foods low in sodium and sugar where you can. Especially avoid foods where the sugar content is more than 20g per 100g and try and get products with less than 10 – 12g per 100g – or with no added sugar!

Carbohydrates, Protein and Fibre

All nutrition labels display how much carbohydrate, protein and fibre is in the food product. These numbers are useful for when you are following a particular diet that may restrict carbohydrates, for example, but they are also useful for working out how filling a food item will be.
The higher the fibre and protein, the more filling the food will be, especially if it is high in carbohydrates too. However, the best foods for weight loss are those that are high in fibre and protein but lower in carbohydrates, sugar and fat (such as The Healthy Mummy Smoothie), so these are definitely numbers to look out for.

Vitamins and Minerals

Finally, nutrition labels will also display the vitamin and mineral content of the food product. These are useful numbers, especially if you are trying to increase the amount of vitamins you take in from your diet.
All nutrition labels display percentage information. This information tells you the percentage of your daily recommended allowance that the food product contains, in terms of calories, fat, carbohydrates etc. These are useful especially for vitamin and mineral content, as well as fat and calorie content, as you can easily see at a glance whether that food is nutritious or not.
Looking at nutrition labels is an excellent way to make more informed food choices – so make sure that next time you go to the supermarket
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