You should look for several things on the label when trying to eat a healthier diet.
1. Sodium- look for the sodium content, alot of processed foods have high sodium contents. Consuming high levels of sodium causes fluid retention in your body. These retained fluids can cause your blood pressure to rise.
2. Calories- ADA guidelines recommend a 2,000 cal. diet/day for most adults. This depends on your activity level. Excess caloric intake causes weight gain.
3. Sugar content-especially fructose,sucrose. Diets high in these sugars also tend to contribute to weight gain.
4. Saturated fats- overconsumption of saturated fats increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
There are several important factors to consider when looking at food labels. The first is the calorie count. Weight loss comes down to burning more calories than we take in. So if you are trying to lose weight calorie counting is important.
A second important factor to consider when looking at food labels is the fiber content. When we eat we want to feel satisfied. The more fiber a food item has the more satisfied and full you will feel. Fiber also aids in the speed of foods transit through the intestinal tract.
Two more important factors to consider are the amount of sugar and fat a food item has. Many food labels will indicate that the item is low in fat. When a food item indicates this, it is important to look at the sugar level. Many companies lower the fat count in a food item, but increase the sugar count to make it taste good. By only looking at the fat level you may think the item is healthy when in fact it is loaded in sugar.
Many food labels make claims regarding their products. These claims are regulated by the FDA and USDA. If the product is organic then it must consist of at least 95% organic food. Keep this in mind when you are looking at food labels.
Examining the entire food label is important. The first thing you will want to look at is the serving size. You will also want to take a look at the number of calories per serving. Fats are also an important thing to consider. There are "good" fats and "bad" fats. Generally, the good fats are unsaturated, which means they come from fish, nuts, and vegetable oils. Saturated and trans fat, or animal fat, are the bad kinds of fat and can increase a persons chance of developing heart disease over time. You will also want to avoid foods that are too high in sodium. Sodium is necessary but too much of it can raise blood pressure and cause water retention.
This depends on what you are trying to accomplish.
If a person is trying to lose weight, then the most important thing to look for is the calorie count in the food. While other things are important, the number of calories in the food is what determines how much it will contribute to making a person fat or not.
If you are trying to lower blood pressure, an important thing to look for is sodium content. If you are worried about heart health, then you need to look at fat content and what kinds of fat are in the food.