Solving the Food Label Puzzle
by Aimee Boswell, MS, RD
Food labels can be difficult to understand. In order to determine whether a food item is right for you, just remember your ABCs.
Always note the servings per package or container.
The calories listed are per serving. Note how many servings are in the container and what you get per serving. For example, for each cup on this label, you get 160 calories, 1.5 g of fat, 280 mg of sodium, 320 mg of potassium and 5 g of protein. By knowing the serving size, you know exactly what you’re getting.
Beware of food additives.
Search the ingredients list for additives such as: potassium sorbate, aluminum phosphate, monosodium phosphate, potassium chloride or any additive that has potassium or “phos” in it. Also be aware that many “healthy” foods can have hidden phosphorus or potassium in the form of additives.
Check for potassium and phosphorus levels.
Recommended daily values are higher for people who are not on dialysis. If you are on dialysis, be aware of which foods are considered low, medium and high in potassium and phosphorus. Speak with your renal dietitian to learn the daily amount of potassium and phosphorus that is right for you.