Weekly challenge: become a smarter reader of nutrition labels

I probably spend about half my time at the supermarket reading food labels, trying to decipher which snack for my kids’ school lunches is more nutritious than the others. This week, though, I’m going to try to save a little time by planning ahead and perusing categories of snack foods on the healthcastle.com website run by registered dietitians.

The website compares hundreds of processed food products divided into categories like bread, yogurt, ice cream, breakfast cereal, and salad dressing that go beyond a listing of the fat, sugar, sodium, and calorie content by providing a bottom line assessment from a nutritionist.

For instance, I learned that a serving of Ritz crackers contains half of its calories from fat and has no whole grains. I’m also thinking of giving Beanitos chips a try since they have 5 grams of fiber per serving and very little sodium? (They do, though, have a considerable amount of fat—7 grams per serving.)

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Yogurt lovers will glean the most information from the site which evaluates dozens of yogurts, distinguishing between real Greek yogurt and fake versions that call themselves Greek but use gelatin as a thickening agent—apparently a no-no when it comes to using the Greek label. You’ll also learn whether a product uses high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners and colors, as well as whether it’s organic and contains active beneficial bacteria.

Happy browsing!