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Q: Nutrition labels confuse me. What should I be looking for when trying to make healthy choices?

A: The healthiest foods are the ones without nutrition labels at all! :) But when you're looking at packaged foods, there are a few key thing to help direct you toward healthier products:

1. A short ingredient list

2. The ingredients are things that you recognize as being actual food

3. The "added sugar" should be very low. (be careful with this though, because sometimes the company will add artificial sweeteners which don't count toward this number but are usually unhealthy in other ways. This points to tip #2 above; the names of artificial sweeteners are harder to pronounce and you probably won't recognize them as foods found in nature.)

4. Protein and fiber. A few grams of these macronutrients indicate a more healthful choice when combined with the tips above.

Another tip for wisely navigating the grocery store is to buy the majority of your food from the perimeter of the store. The inner aisles are the more processed foods while the perimeter of most stores is where fresh produce, meat and seafood, and dairy departments are located. You'll probably have to venture into the middle aisles for whole grains such as rice, quinoa, barley, and oats but if you keep these four tips in mind, you should be well on your way to heading home with a load of healthy, tasty food for the week.

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