How to Read Food Labels and Why You Should


Ana Margarita Olar|

Reading food labels may seem so easy but you have to understand that as part of marketing, there are some misleading words that could confuse the consumers.

As a wise consumer, here are some things you have to remember when you read food labels:

read food label

  1. Serving Information

This is located and the top most when you read food labels. It tells the size per serving, how many serving that container has and the calories per serving.

Take note that the calories are counted per serving and not per container.

  1. Fat content

If the label says unsaturated fat then it is healthy for you because it increases the levels of good cholesterol.

But if the label says trans fat or saturated fat, think twice before buying the product.

Saturated fats increase bad cholesterol and decrease good cholesterol. Based on a 2000 calorie diet, we are only allowed 11-13 grams of saturated fat per day.

If the label indicates 0gram trans fat, you have to check the ingredients.

If it contains hydrogenated oil or shortening, there is a trans fat in there.

  1. Sodium content.

Based on a 2000 calorie diet, we are allowed to consume just 1500mg. of sodium per day. Increased sodium causes water retention which can cause hypertension and edema.

  1. Sugar and added sugars.

When you read the label, the sugar content may not reflect the actual sugar content of the product.

Check the ingredients for words like sugar (palm sugar); sweetener (corn sweetener); syrup (corn syrup); and –ose words (glucose, fructose, sucrose) all of these are added sugars.

  1. Fiber

Look for a product label that has at least 3 grams of fiber per serving such as on bread, cookies, biscuits, pasta and crackers.

  1. Vitamins and Minerals

Check out the percent daily value of vitamins and minerals and take note that most of the product’s daily value is based on a 2000 calorie diet.

So the actual percent daily value as based on your actual calorie needs or actual daily dietary intake.

  1. Production and Expiration Date

This part of the label is also very important when you are buying a food product. Consuming products beyond expiry date can cause mild to a serious health hazard, from mild stomach upset to a deadly food poisoning.

Finally, you also need to check the list of ingredients because some of it is not indicated on the nutrient label. Pay attention to the natural ingredients and other chemicals being used such as artificial coloring, artificial flavoring, and preservatives being used.

Other labels also indicate if their product is processed with the same equipment that manufactures other products, such as chocolates produced on the same equipment that process nuts.

You need to be careful in reading the labels especially if you have any food allergy or have any special medical conditions that restrict your diet and choice of food.