How many of you realize that you could be at risk for heart attack, cancer and stroke?
Heart disease, Cancer and Stroke are the three top causes of death in the United States. Eating unhealthy, even if you are not overweight, can cause high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.
Understanding food labels can help you choose more nutritious foods which can help you live a longer, healthier and disease free life.
Breaking Down Food Labels:
I. Title ‘Nutrition Facts’ states it is information approved by the FDA
· A. Health claims are regulated by the government
· B. Ingredients are listed in descending order of predominance by weight. Meaning that the first ingredient is the one that is in the largest amount. If the first ingredient is sugar, then the product is mostly made of sugar.
· C. Percent Daily values: based on a 2,000 calorie diet which has 30% or less calories a day from fat.
D. Start with the serving size. It is good to know how much is in the serving size since your own serving size may be bigger or smaller than what is listed on the label. It also tells you how many servings in the package. * The information listed on the label is for 1 serving size, and sometimes not for the entire package. Make sure to account for how many servings are in the package.
What nutrients to get enough of:
II. These are the nutrients listed on the food label that you should get enough of
· A. Vitamins: 10% or more is a good source, 20% or more is a high source.
* Food manufacturers are required to list Vitamins A & C, calcium and iron on all food labels.
· B. Protein: 5 g or more is a good source
· C. Dietary Fiber: 2.5g to 5g is a good source, 5g or more is a high source
· D. Unsaturated fats are healthy fats and do not raise blood cholesterol. Choose real butter, healthy oils such as extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, safflower oil. Avocados contain healthy fats.
o I believe that some saturated fats are good for you such as coconut oil. According to Doctor Oz, these types of fats are medium chain fatty acids and can be digested well by your body. Not to mention extra virgin coconut oil and coconut milk are natural, real foods and can be found without added ingredients.
· E. Carbohydrates: 45 to 65% of your total calories. Choose whole grains and veggies.
What should you avoid?
III. There are certain nutrients that should be limited
· High amounts of sodium can cause high blood pressure, limit to 2400 to 3000 mg or less a day (packaged foods such as frozen dinners and other packaged foods are high in sodium.)
· Calories: should be 200g or less per serving. Avg. woman: 2,000 cal per day, Avg. man: 2,500 cal. Eat enough but not too much.
· Sugar: watch out for added sugar (HFC), >10% a day, no more than 50g a day. Make sure that sugar is not one of the first ingredients on the package ingredient list.
· Cholesterol: too much can lead to heart disease. Challenge: 300mg or less a day
· Foods that contain tons of ingredients that you cannot pronounce and do not know what they are.