Consumer Watch: Nutrition labels can help your choices while dieting

The nutrition labels on our food will make it easier for us to make more informed choices in our diet.

"With some simple changes, such as bolder type and the adjustment of serving sizes, it's going to be a lot easier for consumers who want to eat healthier to lower their risk for heart disease and other conditions," says Patricia Calvo with Consumer Reports.

Here are four of the important changes that will help you pick the best foods for your health.

First, the serving sizes are more realistic, with amounts for some foods reflecting what people really eat.

Another example is that if a package holds two or three servings, but there's a good chance someone would eat it in one sitting, say a bag of popcorn, the label must show nutrition info for one serving and the whole package.

Another label change since Americans don't get enough vitamin D, which is important for bone health and potassium, which helps to lower blood pressure are now listed instead of Vitamins A and C, which are already plentiful in most people's diets.

And the calorie count will be featured in a significant bold type. If you consume more calories than your body needs, those extra calories are stored as fat.

But keep in mind those calorie counts don't tell the whole story. A 250-calorie candy bar that contains nuts is not as healthful, for example, as 250 calories worth of nuts.

"Now that it's featured, manufacturers may have more of an incentive to reduce the amount of added sugar in their products," Calvo said.

While there has always been a line for sugars, it referred to both naturally occurring sweeteners plus the ones added in, like granulated sugar or high fructose corn syrup.

The FDA now requires that added sugars be included on a separate line. It's now easier to judge food by its label.
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