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How to Read Food Labels

by Sima Cohen

June 10, 2013 | 1:00 pm

Low-fat
A 1600 calorie diet should contain between 36-62 grams of dietary fat. Low fat foods contain 3 grams of fat or less per serving.

Fat free
Non fat or fat free foods are not carb free foods. Often fat free foods are much higher in carbs than regular foods. Fat free also does not mean calorie free. The FDA states that in order to achieve this label, the food must contain less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving.

Please also keep in mind that “0″ does not always mean “0″. The food could contain 0.4 grams of fat per serving and still qualify as 0 fat or “fat free”. If you eat a whole box or can or package, you could be consuming 1000 calories and 100 grams of fat!

Sugar free
Sugar free does not mean it is carb free. If you compare the sugar free and the regular product and the carb content is much higher in the sugar free product, use whichever tastes best to you. Sugar free means the product has less than 0.5 grams of sugar per serving.

Low sodium
Low Sodium is 140 milligrams or less per serving, and Very Low Sodium is 35 milligrams or less per serving.

    Beware of the words “Less” or “Reduced” and use your common sense: less does not mean none.

    For beef, low-fat is the preferred option. When buying beef look for 70-90% extra lean.

    For dairy, low-fat or nonfat are the preferred options.

    For lean proteins such as chicken and turkey, there are a few things to watch out for. When buying ground meats, be sure it says “All white meat”. Any package that contains “dark meat” is not as lean and healthy. When buying breast meat, boneless and skinless are the leanest cuts. For deli slices you should opt for low sodium and make sure the slices contain only white meat.

    When buying canned foods, such as soups, be most aware of sodium content. The FDA’s “low sodium” requirements won’t apply to most canned foods. Look for “Light in Sodium” or about less than 400mg per serving.

    Jams, jellies, preserves, marmalades and fruit butters or spreads should be low in sugar or should not contain corn syrup or corn sugar. The fruit should be listed as the first ingredient instead of a juice version of the fruit, like in Smucker’s.

    With Peanut or Almond Butter, raw and unsalted are the way to go.

    When buying any wheat, grain or bread, the first ingredient should be “Whole” followed by the type of product it is.

    When buying pre-cut, pre-packaged fruit or vegetables fresh or frozen is best. Stay away from canned since there will be non-healthy ingredients added.

To your health,
Sima Cohen

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Sima (which translates “Joy” in Hebrew) is poised to become the next big hit in health and wellness in America. An Israeli immigrant, Sima came to the states 20 years ago...

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