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To determine the freshness of a fruit or vegetable, a person might squeeze, smell or even sneak a taste at the grocery store. However, when it comes to packaged foods, many Americans find it difficult to evaluate the quality and nutritional value of food items sold in cans, plastic containers and paper boxes.
Seventy-eight percent of Americans want clearer to read nutritional information and ingredient lists on the back of food products, according to a recent survey conducted on behalf of Heinz.
"It can be very confusing to try and compare food products on the shelf," says Dr. Idamarie Laquatra, a registered dietitian and director of Global Nutrition at Heinz. "But label information and nutrition claims can be useful tools for shaping your purchase decisions."
To ensure that you're a savvier shopper when selecting products that fit your personal nutrition goals, follow these tips from Laquatra:
* Know what's on the package: The nutrition facts label, which gives the serving size, calories and nutrients per serving, is typically found on the side or back of a package. The Daily Value percentages on the nutrition facts label are compared to nutrition recommendations for someone eating 2,000 calories per day. For example: a product listing fiber at 10 percent Daily Value means the product contains 10 percent of the amount of fiber needed by a person who consumes 2,000 calories. When reviewing a nutrition label, consider whether your nutrition needs are greater or less than someone who eats 2,000 calories per day.
* Seek out nutritious sources: Claims like "high in fiber," "rich in calcium" or "excellent source of vitamin C" mean one serving provides at least 20 percent or more of the recommended daily amount of the specified nutrient. "Good source of" means an item contains 10 to 19 percent of the recommended daily amount per serving.
* Minimizing the bad stuff: "Reduced" or "less" mean that the item has 25 percent less of a nutrient, such as sugar or fat, than the usual product that doesn't carry this claim.
* Tally the fat content: "Fat free" products must have less than half a gram of fat per serving. Products advertising that they are "low" in fat must have three grams or less of fat per serving.
* Look for allergens: Carefully read product labels on a continual basis to ensure that your favorite products remain free of allergens. Heinz has a commitment to using pure ingredient lists in its brands, which can help you to eat healthier without worrying about allergic reactions. For instance, a list of Heinz gluten-free options are available at www.heinz.com/health--wellness/focus-foods/dietary-preferences.aspx.
Just a little time spent looking at labels at the supermarket can make a huge difference in your diet. And, a little knowledge of what the labels are communicating can make all the difference in your well being.
Courtesy of ARAcontent