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Grocery Tour Guide

Key Concept: Reading Labels

1. Serving Information This will tell you the size of 1 serving and the total number of servings in the container. The rest of the information on the label pertains to 1 serving.

2. Calories Per Serving Pay attention to the calories per serving. If you double the servings you eat, you have to double the calories.

3. Limit These Nutrients High intake of saturated fat and sodium are linked to poor health. Choose foods with less of these nutrients when possible. Trans fats should be avoided completely.

4. Natural Sugars vs. Added Sugars Some sugars in foods are natural, such as in fruits, and that is okay. It is more important to pay attention to added sugars. Try to aim for the least amount of added sugars for optimal health.

5. Get Enough of These Nutrients Dietary fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals are beneficial nutrients that keep us healthy. Choose foods with more of these nutrients when possible.

Key Concept: Limiting Added Sugars

Daily added sugar limit for women: 25g (6 tsp)

Daily added sugar limit for men: 36g (9 tsp)

In order to help keep added sugar intake within these daily limits, choose products with...

  • 10g or less added sugar per serving

Key Concept: Limiting Sodium

Daily sodium limit for those without high blood pressure: 2,300 mg

Daily sodium limit for those with high blood pressure: 1,500 mg

In order to help keep sodium intake within these daily limits, choose products with...

  • 600 mg or less per entree

  • 300 mg or less per side or snack

Key Concept: Identify Siren Words

"Siren words" are ingredients that identify unhealthy products. These products can take you away from your health and wellness goals, so we want to be able to easily identify them.

If you imagine a police siren going off when you see these ingredients, you'll be more likely to put the item back on the shelf and find a healthier alternative. Your body will thank you!

Siren Word 1: "Enriched"
  • Where to find it: Ingredients list and sometimes front of package

  • What it means: Refined/processed flour product

  • Why is that unhealthy? Spikes blood sugar (blood sugar rollercoaster) which can lead to high cholesterol, diabetes, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and more hunger (Red line)

  • What to choose instead: Whole grain/whole wheat (Green line)

Siren Word 2: "Nitrate/Nitrite"
  • Where to find it: Ingredients list

  • What it means: Poor quality preservative

  • Why is that unhealthy? They are turned into nitrosamines, which are carcinogens

  • What to choose instead: "Nitrate/nitrite-free", "uncured" or "natural" products

Siren Word 3: "Hydrogenated" or "Partially Hydrogenated" Oil
  • Where to find it: Ingredients list

  • What it means: Trans fat

  • Why is that unhealthy: Increases risk of heart attack, stroke, and type 2 diabetes

  • What to choose instead: A similar product that does not list hydrogenated oil in the ingredients

Grocery & Meal Planners_RENEW
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“Added Sugars.”, American Heart Association, 2 Nov. 2021,

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, December 8). Salt. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from

Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (n.d.). Nutrition and weight status. Healthy People 2020. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Liu, S. (2002). Intake of Refined Carbohydrates and Whole Grain Foods in Relation to Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Coronary Heart Disease. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 21(4), 298-306. doi:10.1080/07315724.2002.10719227

Song, P., Wu, L., & Guan, W. (2015). Dietary nitrates, nitrites, and nitrosamines intake and the risk of gastric cancer: A meta-analysis. Nutrients, 7(12), 9872–9895.

World Health Organization. (2018, May 3). Nutrition: Trans fat. World Health Organization. Retrieved from

Wu, H., Flint, A. J., Qi, Q., Dam, R. M., Sampson, L. A., Rimm, E. B., . . . Sun, Q. (2015). Association Between Dietary Whole Grain Intake and Risk of Mortality. JAMA Internal Medicine, 175(3), 373. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.6283

Recap of the grocery tour key concepts

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