How to Read a Food Label

Why Is Cholesterol Important?

If you have high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol) levels, you may be at risk for heart disease, and you may need to watch how much dietary cholesterol you consume. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends consuming less than 300 mg per day of dietary cholesterol.
Your healthcare provider can recommend how much cholesterol you should consume, depending on your individual levels. If your cholesterol is high, your healthcare provider may recommend limiting your dietary cholesterol intake even more.

Watching Sodium and Potassium

Why do you need to watch your sodium levels? Consuming too much sodium (salt) can increase your risk for high blood pressure (hypertension), which can lead to heart disease. The USDA recommends reducing your daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg. If you have high blood pressure or certain other health issues, your healthcare provider may recommend you further reduce your intake to 1,500 mg.
Labels can be especially helpful for keeping your sodium intake in check. Food labels can also help you find some of those hidden sources of sodium, such as canned soups, salad dressings, and cheese. In general, products that are less processed usually contain less sodium.
High blood pressure is also a risk when sodium is too high and potassium is too low. Having low potassium levels can also cause irregular heartbeats. The USDA recommends a daily intake of 4,700 mg of potassium. While reading labels can help with this, you can also reach for quick sources of potassium, such as bananas, tomatoes, orange juice, and broccoli.
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