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Navigating Nutrition Labels and Ingredient Lists

Updated: Aug 2, 2023



Are nutrition labels and ingredient lists something you often overlook when grocery shopping?




With their countless numbers, percentages, and unfamiliar terms such as “maltodextrin” and “disodium guanylate,” they can certainly be daunting. But fear not! I am here to help.

Let me share some valuable tips and tricks to navigate this information and help you make the most informed food choices.


The FDA provides this helpful image that highlights essential aspects to consider when reading nutrition labels. [1] Let’s break it down step by step. First, it is important to pay attention to the number of servings per product and the serving size. This information aids in portion control and helps you determine the number of calories you will consume. For example, since the serving size of 1 cup is 280 calories, half a cup of this product would be 140 calories while two cups would be 560 calories.


Next, scrutinize the nutrient content to understand how the item contributes to your nutritional needs. Aim to limit saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars, but beware of sneaky added sugars—check the ingredient list thoroughly. Some products, like diet sodas, claim to have no added sugars, but they may still contain artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, which can negatively impact your health. Other ingredients that you may want to refrain from are high fructose corn syrup, canola oil, palm oil, vegetable oil, sunflower oil, and gum additives as these are highly processed and can be harmful to the gut and your overall health. Always check for these and try to avoid them when you can.


The % Daily Value is a vital tool to assess your nutritional distribution and needs. Keep in mind that these percentages are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, which is a general recommendation and may not align with your specific requirements. Depending on what our healthcare professionals at Premiere Weight Loss + Wellness calculate for your nutritional needs, you may need more or less of these nutrients. A %DV of 5% or less indicates the product is low in that nutrient, while a 20% or higher suggests it is high in that nutrient. This insight can help you to identify high-fat and high-sugar products and make healthier choices.

By understanding and utilizing nutrition labels effectively, you can confidently make informed food choices to support your overall health and well-being.


The Writer Avery Otsuji is a Nutritionist with Inspire Medical Group, a partner of Premiere Weight Loss + Wellness. She has a passion for helping individuals reach their health goals and believes in a holistic approach to nutrition and health. Avery specializes in a wide range of topics, including weight management, heart health, diabetes, digestive health, and meal planning. With her personalized, evidence-based approach, Avery is dedicated to helping clients find sustainable nutrition and lifestyle solutions that work best for them.

References:

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, www.fda.gov/food/new-nutrition-facts-label/how-understand-and-use-nutrition-facts-label


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