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How do I read food labels?

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Old 11-19-2013, 08:14 AM   #1
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Default How do I read food labels?

Hey there! I am completely new to this about healthy diets but Im trying hard to learn. And I would appreciate some help on how to read food labels. I am happy with my weight and my goal by eating healthy is to get more energy, build more muscles, better immune system, sleep better, live longer and so on. What I wanna do is basically only to eat lot of vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, fish and chicken, beans. I guess I am trying to avoid too much sautered fats, trans fats, cholestorol, too much sugars and sodium.

What I dont get is how to read food labels. For example, if you look at pringles it has 12% (8 g) Fats of which 10% (2g) is sautered fats. So my first question and i feel stupid asking it.
1. 2g does not equal 10% out of the total of 8g which is fat. 2g of sautered fats out of the total of 8g of fats equals 25% and not 10%. What am I getting wrong?
2. The 12% fat, 0% cholestorol and 6% Sodium in Pringles doesn't sound like a lot to me. I understand that it is called "empty calories" because it has barely no minerals or nutrients. But how can I by the food label tell that it is bad and not just "neutral" as it seems to me now? Or am i simply wrong? Is 6% sodium and 12% fat considered a lot?
3. In the products that i buy i rarely see products that has more than 18% sautered fats. So I wonder, how much sautered fats is considered to be a lot in a product? To me most products in the food store seems great when it comes to sautered fat.
4. I have some sunflower seeds here and it says Total fat 13g 20%. Sautered fats 1,5g 8%. Trans fat 0g. What kind of fat is the other 11,5g and why don't they write it on the label?
5. I understand that theres a debate on which kinds of food you should eat and whats considered healthy. But am I generelly correct if i want to be more healthy by avoiding products which has a lot of sautered fats, trans fats, sugar, cholestorol and sodium?

I realize that it is me who lack the knowledge in this and thats why im embarassed to ask these basic questions. But for so far the food labels just doesnt make sense and the unhealthy food just doesnt seem so bad to me by looking at the food label.

Thanks in advance.

Last edited by Hansen88a : 11-19-2013 at 08:18 AM.
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Old 11-19-2013, 09:44 AM   #2
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The percentage that you see does not measure the percentage of the nutrient inside the box. It measure the percentage of the nutrient as generally accepted on a recommended on a daily allowance.

So, When you see "Cholesterol, 450mg.... 12%" for example, it means that if you eat one serving of this product that you will be receiving 12% of the sodium that you should be eating in day. These calculation are based generally on a 2000calorie per day average. In reality, you are free to make those allotments for yourself or your doctor can prescribe those allotments for you. For me, these percentages mean nothing. I decide for myself how much of each nutrient I need for myself.

Regarding reading labels, I rely most on the calories and on the ingredient list. Food with lots of ingredients I try to generally avoid. If I do buy a food with a list of ingredients I read the first few. They are listed by amount so the first ingredient is what makes up most of the product. I avoid buying things that have sugar (of any name) listed in the ingredients.
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Last edited by Wannabeskinny : 11-19-2013 at 09:45 AM.
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Old 11-25-2013, 07:46 PM   #3
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If you are dieting by counting calories then you need to pay attention to the calorie count and the amount that represents one serving, because the calorie count is not for the entire package, unless it only contains 1 serving.

You are correct to be concerned about Sat fat, trans fat, sugar, cholesterol and sodium. If a package shows 20 gr of fat of which 1.5 gm are sat fat, then the rest is either mono fat or polunsaturated fat, which are healthy fats. As far as health is concerned, the body needs these fats, but if you are eating a low fat diet you want to be concerned with total fat.

If you are eating mostly the foods you listed, you should not have a problem with sodium. It is mainly a problem with packaged foods. Since you are trying to be healthy and not necessarily looking to lose weight, you can eat some of the foods considered to be empty calories, in small quantities. Once you have been eating healthy foods for a while your body will no longer want things like Pringles.

If you google "How to read nutrition labels" you will get a long list of interesting site to read. This should give you any further information you might need.

Good luck to you.
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