Make sure that packaged and processed foods don’t foil your efforts to maintain a heart-healthy diet. Unless you read and understand the nutrition facts label, you could be consuming more fat, salt and sugar on a regular basis that you realize.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for protecting the public health, which includes ensuring that the nation’s foods are safe, wholesome and sanitary. This includes regulating food labeling and deciding what information must appear on food packaging and which information is not permissible or misleading.
Scan the label
The nutrition facts label found on packaged and processed foods is required by the FDA and has all the information necessary to help maintain a heart-healthy diet. At first glance, it might seem like it would take too long to read the label each time you purchased a packaged item. Learning which information to focus on and where to find it makes it easier. After a few times, scanning the label for the most important information only takes a second or two. I focus on just a few key items when I’m pressed for time:
- Serving Size — The entire package is not always one serving!
- Calories — Lists the calories in each serving.
- Total Fat — Saturated fats and trans fats are included in this section
- Cholesterol — Found directly below total fat.
- % Daily Value — Based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet. Your calorie intake may be more or less, but simply following this average will keep you in line without needing to calculate your precise requirements.
For more detailed information, visit the FDA’s Web site.