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Health & Beauty

May 31, 2013

Healthy or Not? Check out the Facts

nutrition

By Robert Arbogast

Fitness Specialist

So you’ve decided to make healthier food choices and you find yourself roaming through the supermarket aisles. There are thousands of choices, wholesome images on boxes and healthy catch phrases on almost everything. Now what?

The first and most important rule to remember is this: the answers are not on the front of the packaging. Those images of berries and plants and buzz words like ‘low-fat’ and ‘high fiber’ are simply advertisements strategically placed to sell products.

Here’s a good example. On a recent search for a decent jar of spaghetti sauce, I found that a less eye-catching, less expensive brand of sauce contained about the same amount of calories, but half the sugar and 30% less sodium than the more expensive brand with the “healthier” looking label. The tastes are similar, but the numbers could make a huge difference to you and your family.

The important information needed to make smart choices is in the Nutrition Facts Label. Unlike the mostly unregulated advertisements on the front, food labels are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and are required to be accurate. The FDA also requires that all food labels include, at minimum, the serving size, calories, calories from fat, total fat, amount of saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, protein, dietary fiber, sugar, vitamins A and C, calcium and iron.

In next month’s issue we will take a more in-depth look at the numbers on the labels and give a few pointers to help you make your smart choices. In the meantime, take some time to read a few labels and do some comparisons on your own. It’s a great way to become more aware of what’s out there and what you’re putting in your body.

From Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation Department

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