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Heart Healthy Label Reading Tips 2008-02-26 03:00:00

Label Able: Heart Healthy Choices, Part One

In the last days of Heart Health Month, we've been focusing on ways to get our hearts healthy now and in the future. One key way to keep healthy is to smarten up at the grocery store when reading labels. Here are just a few tips to help you figure out what it all means on the front of the label, and the back:

  • The claim, "May reduce the risk of heart disease." A company can only put this statement on a food if scientific evidence exists that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has decided is strong enough to support it.
  • Nutrient content claims. The government regulates how a company can use terms such as "high," "low" or "reduced." For example, a food must have 3 grams of fat or less to be considered low fat, and a product that is high in a certain nutrient provides 20 percent or more of the daily value suggested by the FDA.
  • Foods with fiber. Fiber helps the digestive system and lowers cholesterol. Look for the claims "high in fiber" or "excellent source of fiber," as these products have at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. A food listed as a "good source" of fiber has 2.5 grams of fiber or more.
  • Omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats have been shown to benefit the heart. Fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and trout are good sources of omega fats and are low in saturated fat.

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