Learning how to read and understand a nutrition label can help you help you make healthier food choices while monitoring your heart health. The nutrition facts panel generally consists of the following components: serving size information, calorie information, percent daily value based on a 2,000 calorie diet, nutrient information and ingredients. It seems pretty simple, right? Unfortunately for many, it can be confusing. Through deciphering nutrition labels and cardiac monitoring, you can take the steps towards a healthier heart.

Serving Size: It’s important to pay attention to the serving size; every other number on the label applies to one serving. Even though a bag of chips says that it’s 150 calories, the entire bag could be 3 servings, or 450 calories.

Percent Daily Value (% DV): This is the percentage of each nutrient recommended to meet the needs of an average 2,000 calorie diet. In general, if you want to consume less of a nutrient (like saturated fat), choose foods with a lower % DV.

Total Fat, Saturated Fat, Trans Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium: This is part of the label that most people should limit. Saturated and Trans fats are considered bad because they have the ability to raise cholesterol levels, which can increase your risk of heart disease. Sodium, mainly from salt naturally present in food or more commonly added to food, can contribute to fluid retention and high blood pressure and thus should be limited.

Total Carbohydrates: Generally broken down into dietary fiber and sugars, carbohydrates are primarily found in starches, vegetables, fruits, sweets and milk. Foods high in fiber are beneficial for weight control, diabetes, high cholesterol, and even some forms of cancer. Added sugars – glucose, fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, maltose, etc. – should also be avoided by those looking to improve their body composition.

Protein: This is the amount of protein in grams that one serving has. In general, .45 grams of protein per pound of body weight (e.g. 68 grams for a 150 pound person) is enough protein. It’s rare for people to consume too much protein.

Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamins A & C, and Calcium and Iron are the only ones required on a label. It is recommended to receive 100% DV of each of these nutrients.

Ingredients: The ingredients are listed according to how much of the ingredient the food contains. The ingredient list can help you determine whether the food is right for you, depending on your views on what you want and don’t want to put in your body.

Medicomp focuses on assisting physicians achieve faster and more accurate diagnoses by providing advanced cardiac monitoring solutions. Managing heart health benefits your whole body, and with the most sophisticated cardiac monitoring systems in the world, you can take the steps necessary to lead a healthier lifestyle. To learn more about our products, call us at 1-800-23-HEART.