Understanding nutrition labels can help improve health

Local News

HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — When we reach for snacks or foods we tend to focus on the branding; however what needs to be focused on is the nutrition labels behind them.

Licensed Dietitian, Vanessa Zamarripa said high doses of sodium are one of the major components that lead to cholesterol. 

Zamarripa said it is important for everyone to limit their sodium intake and what can help is cooking at home versus eating out. Foods with longer shelf life also fall into the high sodium category. 

“Anything that’s processed is gonna have higher sodium because what they do is they use sodium to preserve the product so that they last longer on the shelf,” said Zamarripa.

According to Zamarripa, sodium intake varies. She said for kids that tends to be around 1900mg-2300mg/per day.

In addition to sodium, Zamarripa encourages parents to monitor their child’s sugar intake especially because sugar can be found in almost anything. 

According to Zamarripa, kids are recommended to intake 25 grams of sugar or less per day.

She said an easy way to tell if an item is pure sugar is by understanding whether it is listed as the top two ingredients on its label.

“The labels are in order so if you look at the ingredient list like its in order to what has the most to what has the least so if sugar is the first one or two ingredients it’s mostly all sugar,” said Zamarripa.

Other added sugars to be mindful of are:

  • brown sugar
  • corn sweetener
  • corn syrup
  • high-fructose corn syrup
  • honey dextrose
  • fruit juice concentrates
  • invert sugar
  • malt sugar
  • molasses
  • raw sugar
  • turbinado and ingredients ending in “-ose”

She said being informed of what one consumes is not a way to discourage people on what they can not eat, rather be mindful and moderate.

Zamarripa said prevention measures are encouraged as soon as possible because many parents or adults decide to do something about their health when diagnosed as diabetic or hypertensive.

She said changing one’s lifestyle and habits can help minimize the chances of having health issues in the long run. 

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