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Learning How To Read Nutrition Labels: Simplified! | Diabetes Daily Post
Learning How To Read Nutrition Labels: Simplified!

How To Read Nutrition Labels: Simplified!

For someone newly diagnosed with diabetes, understanding nutrition labels can be confusing.Luckily, nutrition facts on the label are structured in such a way that it is  easy to follow. There are 7 major parts of a nutrition label that you need focus on. Use the example nutrition label of a whole-grain granola bar below to help guide you as we follow each step!

Nutrition Facts Label Creator - Free Tool - Nutritional Informat
1. Serving Size
The serving size tells you how much of the food product the nutrition label is referring to. If you eat more of this food, then that is more than one serving size.

2. Calories
If your doctor or dietician has asked you to count your calories and to keep the count below a certain number, this is the portion of the label you will be looking at.One great tool for estimating how many calories you should be eating daily can be found on the American Diabetes Association website.

3. Fats & Cholesterol
One of the most confusing portions of a nutrition label is understanding the difference between total fat, saturated fat, and trans fat. Total Fat tells you generally how much fat is in the serving size of the product. This includes “good” fats such as mono- and poly-unsaturated fats, as well as “bad” fats such as Saturated Fats and Trans Fats. “Good” fat can help lower your blood cholesterol and protect your heart, whereas too much “bad” fat can increase your cholesterol as well as your risk of heart disease, heart attack or stroke. Cholesterol content is included in this, as well. Look for products that are low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol.

4. Sodium
Although sodium does not affect glucose levels, it is still very important to monitor your sodium content. Patients with diabetes have a high risk of heart-related diseases. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you should be especially cautious of the sodium content. Unless your doctor has told you otherwise, most adults should be limiting themselves to less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.

5. Total Carbohydrates
All types of carbohydrates can affect blood glucose, not just sugars. Therefore, it is important to take all carbohydrates into consideration when reading nutrition labels. Dietary Fiber is the part of the food that is not digested or partially digested. Vegetable and plant fibers make great, healthy sources of fiber. The daily fiber recommendation is 25 grams for women and 28 grams for men. Some nutrition labels will also list Sugar Alcohols in this section, which are in reduced-calorie sweeteners such as Splenda®. It is important to note that if a product is made with sugar alcohols instead of sugar, this does not mean that the product is low in calories or carbohydrates! The Total Carbohydrate count includes the sum of Dietary Fiber, Sugar, and Sugar Alcohols. Since you do not digest fiber, when looking at Total Carbohydrate count, subtract the Dietary Fiber from it to get your total carbohydrate count for that serving size. Ideally, you want have a higher fiber content than sugar content.

6. List of Ingredients
The list of ingredients within a food product can be found at the bottom of every nutrition label. Ingredients are listed by weight of ingredient, from most to least. In our example, rolled whole grain blend makes up the most amount of the bar, then dates, then chicory root fiber, and so on. If you have been asked by your doctor to eat more whole grain or nut products, you should make sure that those ingredients are within the first three ingredients listed.

This article is brought to by our guest writers:
Maxie Sabackic, PharmD Candidate 2015, School of Pharmacy-Boston, MCPHS University, Jennifer Goldman-Levine, PharmD, CDE, BC-ADM, FCCP, Professor of Pharmacy Practice, School of Pharmacy-Boston, MCPHS University, Boston MA, Clinical Pharmacist, Well Life Medical, Peabody MA

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