Understanding Nutrition Labels

Nov 5, 2019

The label on the food we eat helps us understand what is in the food and the amount of nutrition it contains. Everyone should read food labels, but it is especially important for anyone with a specific nutrition plan because it helps us make sure we are eating more of the things that are good for our health. Here’s are some important things to know:


Nutrition Label

Serving Size: The service size defines what a single portion of the food is – a cup, 1/2 a cup, 5 oz., etc. The nutrients listed on the label are given in relation to that single portion. We can track how our nutrients by looking at the label and multiplying each value by the number of portions. For example, if one cup of cereal is 100 calories, if we eat two cups in the morning, our total calorie intake is 200.

Fat and Cholesterol: A low-fat, low-cholesterol diet is key to heart health. Look at the food label and choose foods with less than 10% daily value of saturated fats and less than 7% daily value of cholesterol.

Sodium: Foods with no more than 6 to 10% of the daily value of sodium is ideal. For those trying to limit potassium, it’s important to know that products listed as ‘lower sodium’ often have added potassium.

Protein: A balanced diet includes lean and healthy protein. Seven grams on the label equals one ounce of protein.

Potassium and Phosphorous: Often, these nutrients are listed as daily value percentages. If you live with CKD or are dialysis, make sure you talk with your dietician, so you know how much of these nutrients are right for you.

Good Rules of Thumb:

  • Total fats under 30% and saturated fats under 10%
  • Cholesterol under 7%
  • Fiber over 10%
  • Sodium 6-10%
  • Frozen meals should have sodium under 20% and total fat under 15%
  • Oils and margarine should have saturated fat under 10%
  • Vegetables with sodium under 6%
  • Choose lean and extra lean meats with a total fat between 7.5 to 15%

When in doubt, check with your dietitian so you can be sure you are getting the right nutrients for you for a healthier and longer life.

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