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Food Labels Educate the Consumer

All you need to know is on the label, if you know how to look

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 31, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- People who want to take control of their diet need to start paying more attention to a little white box that appears on just about every food label in the supermarket, a University of Michigan dietician says.

The Nutrition Facts label can help you whether you're trying to lose weight, battle a chronic condition or just eat better, says Holly Scherer, of the University of Michigan Health System.

Start your reading at the top of the label with the serving size and number of servings per package. Compare the serving size to how much you eat; if you eat double the serving size, then you will have to double the calories, nutrients and other numbers located on the label.

Next on the label you will find calories and calories from fat. Calories measure how much energy you get from a serving of food, and choosing foods that are low in calories will help you manage your weight.

The nutrients on the rest of the label are ordered from things you should limit -- such as fat, cholesterol and sodium -- down to nutrients that you truly need, like dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium and iron.

Label readers should pay close attention to saturated fats and trans-fats because of their ability to raise cholesterol and increase risk for heart disease, Scherer says.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about reading the Nutrition Facts label.

SOURCES: University of Michigan Health System, news release, Dec. 22, 2003
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