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Healthy Labels


I was in the grocery store this past weekend and came across a man staring blankly at the never-ending bread aisle. I asked him if he was OK and he turned to me and said, “I remember when you went to the store and just asked for bread!” We both laughed, but he was making a great point that today’s grocery stores, with thousands of choices, can be overwhelming.

People looking to find and compare healthy products face another challenge – making sense of the confusing terms used on product labels. To help you tell the difference between foods that are healthy and foods with “healthy marketing,” here are some definitions that should help:

Fat-Free Less than ½ gram of fat per serving
Low-Fat 3 grams of fat or less per serving
Reduced Fat 25% less fat than the original product
Light 50% less fat than the original product
Low Cholesterol 20mg or less of cholesterol and 2 grams or less of saturated fat per serving
Sodium Free Less than 5mg of sodium per serving
Sugar Free Less than ½ gram of sugar per serving
High Fiber 5 grams or more of fiber per serving

As a rule of thumb, I recommend getting 80 percent of your groceries from sources that don’t need labels such as fruits, vegetables, lean protein, etc. When you do need to buy packaged food, look at the first five ingredients on the ingredients list. If you know what they are, toss it in your basket. If you don’t, place it neatly back on the shelf so as not to create more work for the nice people at the grocery store!

And remember, a few small steps can lead to big changes.

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