November 9, 2016

Diabetes, Reading Food Labels – Part 2

Nutrients - "% Daily Value" shows how much a serving of that food gives you for each key nutrient listed. These daily goals are set by the government, based on current nutrition recommendations. The percentages are based on a 2,000-calorie/day diet, which would be right for an average- or large-size man who gets little exercise. Women or seniors with diabetes, or people trying to lose weight, need fewer calories.

If your daily calorie intake isn't 2,000, you may need to do a little math. Some nutrient goals change with the number of daily calories. Some, including sodium and calcium, are based on things like your age, sex, or health, not the number of calories you eat. Talk to your doctor or your diabetes educator about how to adjust the % Daily Values on labels for your diet.

In general, when it comes to fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, choose foods with a low % Daily Value. For total carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and vitamins and minerals, try to reach your daily target for each nutrient.

Ingredients - Every product should list all the ingredients in it. They're in order from the largest to smallest amount, by weight. This means a food is made up of the heaviest amount of the first ingredient and the least amount of the last ingredient.

Label Claims - Some food labels make claims such as "low cholesterol" or "low fat." A manufacturer can only use these words if a food meets strict government definitions:
(per standard serving size)
Fat-free* or sugar-free
Less than 0.5 gram (g) of fat or sugar
Low fat
3 g of fat or less
Reduced fat or reduced sugar
At least 25% less fat or sugar than the regular product.
Cholesterol free
Less than 2 milligrams (mg) cholesterol and 2 g or less of saturated fat
Reduced cholesterol
At least 25% less cholesterol and 2 g or less of saturated fat
Calorie free
Less than 5 calories
Low calorie
40 calories or less
Light or lite
1/3 fewer calories or 50% less fat

Other important terms found on food labels have to do with the amount of salt or sodium. Remember that 1 teaspoon has 2,000 mg.
Sodium-free or salt-free
Less than 5 mg per serving
Very low sodium
35 mg or less of sodium per serving
Low sodium
140 mg or less of sodium per serving
Low sodium meal
140 mg or less of sodium per 3 1/2-ounce meal
Reduced or less sodium
At least 25% less sodium than the regular version
Light in sodium
50% less sodium than the regular version
Unsalted or no salt added
No salt added to the product during processing

Part 2 of 2 parts

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