Joanne SmithHow to read food labels is a question I often get asked. People with mobility impairments — like stroke survivors and people with MS — are at increased risk of strokes, so I cannot stress enough how important it is to know which fats to eat and/or avoid. Spinal cord injury survivors are at high risk for weight gain and developing type 2 diabetes, so it is essential to know the sugar content of the foods we are consuming. Individuals with cerebral palsy are more likely to have high blood pressure, making awareness of daily salt intake vital.

Here is a quick lesson on how to interpret health claims made on food packages, decipher nutrition fact labels and clarify ingredient lists.

First off, whole foods don’t need a label, and unprocessed foods such as whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables also need no explanation, so focus on eating these types of foods.