December 19, 2008, Newsletter Issue #185: Reading Nutrition Labels

Tip of the Week

The Nutrition Information provided on food labels can help you make good dietary choices, and avoid some nutritional pitfalls, that can impact your diabetic meal plan.

When looking at a nutrition label:

1. Make note of the calories - this value
includes carbohydrates, fats and
proteins. It isn't just about the
calories, but about the percentage of
calories that are fats, carbs and
2. Look at the number of calories made
up of the fat portion of the product.
If the fat content is higher then 25% of
the total food value, you may want to
skip this food.
3. For the fat calories, look at saturated
and unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats
are easier for the body to breakdown and
are, therefore, healthier.
4. Is the food product sugar-free or low-
calorie? Remember that many low-calorie
or sugar-free foods still have carbs.
Look for the carb content, and then for
the sugar content. Fruit may be
naturally sweet, but that sweetness
comes from a type of sugar, and that
counts in your carbs.
5. Pectin used to thicken foods is a carb,
and may add calories to your foods, such
as jams, jellies and fruit spreads.
Even low-sugar jams may contain pectin,
and therefore have carbs, though may
have less nutritive value.
6. Check out the fiber. Fiber is important
to combat constipation - a complication
of diabetes. Foods should contain at
least 3 grams of fiber per serving to
have an impact.
7. Sodium is also a concern, especially in
managing blood pressure. A low sodium
diet has 2000 mg of sodium. Shoot for
values between 2000 and 3000 mg to
reduce the impact on blood pressure and
fluid retention, unless your physician
directs otherwise.

Learning to get the most out of nutrition labels will help you get the most out of your foods.

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