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The Secret Ingredients of Food Labels

Watching what you eat is good, but reading what you eat is even smarter: Data out of the annual National Health Interview Survey shows a strong link between reading food labels and preventing obesity. According to the survey, females who consulted nutrition labels weighed approximately 8.8 pounds less than those who didn’t. The study, which was published in Agricultural Economics, also shows that the majority of women (74 percent) habitually or always read the labels. Whether you’re watching your weight or wondering if the food is from farm or factory — there is much to learn about what’s in a label.

Start by evaluating the serving size (i.e. cups, pieces), its metric equivalency (i.e. grams, milliliters), and the total calories per serving. Total calories can affect weight, but remember that it’s equally important to meet the necessary daily intake for nutrients. Many Americans consume more calories than they need — over 2,000 calories per day — but not enough of the eight essential nutrients for optimal health. Ensure you’re getting enough dietary fiber and necessary vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C. Also, carbohydrates are a main source of energy for the brain and approximately 45 to 65 percent of a day’s diet should come from those calories. Finally, foods high in fiber like fruits, whole grains, and beans will help you feel full and avoid snacking.

There are some red flags to look for, too. Keep an eye on saturated fats that come from animal-based products like meat, poultry, butter, and whole milk — eating too much of it can lead to heart disease. When make trans fat, which is found in processed food like baked goods and fast food, less than one percent of your daily calories. Finally, limit things like sodium, potassium, saturated fat, and cholesterol, which can increase your chances of chronic diseases like blood pressure or cholesterol.

Find more information on how Independence Blue Cross can be a part of your plan for health and wellness.

Sponsor content is created for IBX by Philadelphia magazine as a marketing collaboration with IBX. This material is intended for reference and information only and should not be used in place of advice from a doctor or suitable qualified healthcare professional.