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Why the Nutrition Facts label is important

Check servings and calories
Look at the serving size and how many servings the package contains. If you consume
one serving, the label clearly outlines the nutrients you get. If you double the servings
you eat, you double the calories and nutrients, including the Percent Daily Value
(% DV).

Make your calories count
Look at the calories on the label and note where the calories are coming from (fat,
protein, or carbohydrate). Compare them with the other nutrients, like vitamins and
minerals, to decide whether the food is worth eating.

Don’t sugar-coat it
Since sugars contribute calories with few, if any, nutrients, look for foods and beverages
low in added sugars. Read the ingredient list and make sure that added sugars are not
one of the first few ingredients. Some names for added sugars (caloric sweeteners)
include sucrose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, maple syrup, and

Know your fats
Look for foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol to help reduce the risk
of heart disease (5% DV or less is low, 20% DV or more is high). Most of the fats you
eat should be polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Keep total fat intake between
20% to 35% of calories.

Reduce sodium (salt), increase potassium
Research shows that eating less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium (about 1 teaspoon of
salt) per day might reduce the risk of high blood pressure. Most of the sodium people
eat comes from processed foods, not from the salt shaker. Also, look for foods high in
potassium (tomatoes, bananas, potatoes, and orange juice), which counteracts some of
sodium’s effects on blood pressure.

Taken from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website at

Eat your veggies!

Research shows that fruits and vegetables are critical to promoting good health.
To get the recommended amount, most people need to increase the amount of
fruits and vegetables they eat. To determine how much you need, go to http://www.

As you strive to eat more fruits and vegetables, follow these tips to help
save money:*
• Purchase whole fruits and vegetables instead of pre-cut or packaged forms, which
   tend to be more expensive.

• Consider frozen and canned when fresh is too expensive. Frozen and canned fruits
   and vegetables keep longer, too.

• Choose canned fruits packed in water or juice; avoid fruits packed in added sugar.
   Choose vegetables with low sodium amounts.

• Consider generic or store brands, which tend to cost less and have similar taste and

• Purchase larger bags of frozen fruits and vegetables if they are a better bargain and
   you will use them all.

• Purchase canned or dried beans. When making traditional recipes that call for meat,
   use beans instead. Recipes such as chili, soups, and burritos are delicious with

Visit for more tips and recipes.

Material used with permission from North Carolina State University Cooperative
Extension’s Successful Family Program


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