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By NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health
Grocery shopping these days is no easy task, especially when you are faced with a decision in every aisle. The cereal aisle alone is packed with dozens of choices.
Complicating your shopping experience even further, each package is plastered with claims like “whole grain,” “low fat” and “sugar free!”
Have you looked closely at that nutrition information box on your items? It’s time to get familiar with it, as that box is your best ally in healthy eating.
The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 requires all packaged food to include nutrition information on the label.
“The labels can help you make healthier choices and be mindful of what is in the food you eat. But it’s also important to read the label with a critical eye,” said Peggy Balboa, RDN, LDN at Northwest Community Hospital. “Analyze the serving size and servings per package, as well as the sodium and calorie contents. You might have to do some quick calculations to get a true picture of the nutritional value of an item.”
Pay close attention to these five components of the nutrition information box:
Beyond the nutrition information, the other claims printed on food packaging can be somewhat mysterious (until you know your stuff):
“It’s important to know that organic is not synonymous with healthy,” Balboa said. “So don’t be fooled into thinking organic cookies are healthy just because they are labeled organic.”
Talk to your doctor or dietitian before starting a new meal plan. They can give you the support and tools you need to make smart food choices. Get more healthy recipes.
Need a doctor? Find the right one for you at NorthShore University HealthSystem.