How To Read Food Labels

When it comes to food labels, any dietitian worth her salt will tell you to pay attention to them. But not all the words on those labels are created equal. Certain terms are backed up by law; others sound official but could mean anything—or nothing. Use this guide to translate the shelf talk and shop healthier with less hassle.
“Extra Lean”

Meat, poultry, or seafood labeled “extra lean” must meet strict requirements by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Every 100-gram serving (about 3.5 ounces) must have fewer than 5 grams of total fat, fewer than 2 grams of saturated fat, and fewer than 95 milligrams of cholesterol. That amounts to a pretty small dent in your total daily fat allowance, which is about 55 grams if you eat 2,000 calories a day and get 25 percent of your calories from fat. (That intake is on the low end of the recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

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