Stories from Food and Nutrition

The 4 Most Important Things to Look for on a Nutrition Label, According to a Top Dietitian

Erin Bunch

Erin BunchFebruary 18, 2020

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Noticed that nutrition labels look a little differently these days? Here’s a dietitian’s rundown on the updated label.

Real talk: I haven’t looked at a nutrition label since, like, the ’90s which, it turns out, was the last time they were updated. Well, until now. As of January 2020, nutrition labels will start to get a makeover to better reflect all we’ve learned about eating since 1993, when low-fat everything was the ill-advised food trend du jour.

But how do these changes impact what you add to your grocery cart? In the latest episode of You Versus Food, dietitian Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RD, breaks down this newest iteration of the label so you can make better sense of it all. “It’s important to know how to read the entire nutrition label, so you can feel informed and make the best and healthiest decision for yourself,” she says.

One of the biggest changes is actually meant to minimize confusion around that aforementioned dietary fat situation, since we now know not all forms are created equally. New labels will no longer include the amount of calories that come from fat since, well, this figure doesn’t really matter. Instead, they will more simply list amounts of trans and saturated fats so you can better track and limit your consumption of the heart disease enablers. And looking at saturated fat in particular is one of the most important things to keep an eye out for on a nutrition label, says Beckerman. “The goal is to focus on the good fats… and to consume less than 20 grams of saturated fats per day,” she says.

Watch the video to find out what else to look out for in the new labels, including a surprising twist to the vitamin section. “The updates that the FDA made to the label are truly for the betterment of health and well-being,” says Beckerman. Still, she says that it’s important to not become obsessive about their contents. “Don’t make yourself crazy over reading these nutrition labels,” she advises, “because everyone needs a different amount of nutrients every day to help them feel their best.” Amen.

P.S. If you (rightly) feel that Tracey is the hilarious health teacher you never had in high school, subscribe to her show! Or, just let her burst your bubble on the alleged benefits of coconut oil

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