What You Should Know About Food Labels


Decoding some of those health labels and terms can be a difficult task, and a confusing one for even the most health conscious. In addition to that, it seems like every day some news source is touting the benefits of one nutrient, while another talks about the negative implications. So how can you learn to decipher what is good for you and not good for you? Here we will discuss what some of the most common health food labels mean to you, and how you can make choices that really matter for wellness.

Low Sodium

When a food is labeled “low sodium” that means it contains less than 140 milligrams per serving. This is important for people with high blood pressure or other cardiovascular issues like plaque build up or heart disease. Some foods are naturally low in sodium, like whole fruits and vegetables. But packaged foods often contain preservatives and excess sodium, so be sure you watch for that.

High Fiber

High fiber implies that a food has at least five grams of fiber per serving. Serving sizes are always listed on the nutrition label (for example, a label might say: Serving size: 1 cup. Total servings per package: 10). Fiber is important for overall health, and plays a big role in maintaining or achieving a healthy weight, as it keeps you feeling full and satisfied. Air popped popcorn contains a lot of fiber, and many whole grain cereals have the label as well. Fiber also contributes to regular digestion.

No Added Sugar

This term might be a little misleading, because oftentimes foods with “no added sugar” still contain natural sugar. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but if you are diabetic or have blood sugar issues, it is important to know the entire sugar content.

USDA Organic

The United States Department of Agriculture gives its “Organic” label to foods that are 95 percent organic. This means that the food was not genetically engineered and it was not grown using synthetic fertilizers. When it comes to organic, packaged foods are not as important as produce. Organic produce generally contains natural fruits and vegetables that are free from pesticides and preservatives.

High in Omega 3s

Omega 3 fatty acids contribute to healthy brain function, healthy cardiovascular function, and healthy skin, in addition to a variety of other benefits. Foods that are high in omega 3s are great to incorporate in to your diet. Flax seed and fatty fish like salmon are good sources.


*Disclaimer: Always consult your physician or other health care professional before seeking treatment or taking related advice herein.*

Story Credit: 5 Food Labels Decoded by Jessica Girdwain

Photo Credit: Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Iqbal Osman

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