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Food Label Reading: Nutritional facts, calories, sodium intake, daily servings and more!

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Have you ever bothered reading the Nutritional Facts of the foods you buy from the supermarket? I bet you don’t even pay attention to the information that listed there. In actuality, most of us find it frustrating to understand the facts on the nutritional label. Let’s take a look at the cereal box or pancake mix box you used this morning. At the back or the side of the box you can find a table that contains the nutritional facts of the food you just ate. I know that for some the data posted doesn’t make sense, so here’s a crash course on Nutrition Facts Label and Food Label Reading:

nutrition_facts

PARTS OF A NUTRITIONAL FACT LABEL

Serving Size. On the nutritional label under the words Nutrition Facts, you’ll see the serving size and the number of servings in the package. The rest of the nutrition information on the label is based on one serving. In this example (cereal), one-half cup is designated as one serving, and the package contains 15 servings. This means that if you prepared and eat the whole box of pan cake mix in one go you’ll have to multiply the number of calories, fat grams and other nutrients by 15 to get accurate nutrition information.

Calorie Information – This part of the food label provides the calories per serving and the .calories that come from fat. If you need to know the total number of calories you eat every day or the number of calories that come from fat, this section provides that information. In this example, there are 240 calories on each serving without milk and 290 calories on each serving with fat free milk. The number of calories that come from fat is 70. It is important to look at the percentage of fat and keep it below 20%. The pancake mix without the milk is 30% fat. Maybe on the shelf there is a product with less fat to choose.

Nutrients Section. This contains the nutrients and the amounts present in the food. In the example we have 8g of fat, 0mg of cholesterol, 90mg sodium, 37g of and 5g of protein. If you are in a diet or you’re strictly monitoring your health, this section of the nutritional facts label is very helpful. You can easily spot the specific nutrients in your diet.

Vitamins and Minerals. As the name suggest, this section contains the vitamins and minerals present on the product and their percent daily values. The vitamins that are listed on the food label are Vitamin A, Vitamin C and the minerals are Calcium and Iron.

The numbers are based on the total Recommended Dietary Allowances. (RDA’S)

Foot Note. The key nutrients are listed in the section. Depending on your calorie intake, it tells you how much you need to take in of each nutrient daily. If you eat a 2000 calorie diet you should take less than 65g of fat and if you are on a 2500 calorie diet you should take less than 80g of fat. It goes the same with the other nutrients. People need to realize that these numbers might not apply to them.

Things to Keep in Mind in Food Label Reading:

food-label-reading

  • food_label_calories1. Mind the calories: Basically, the amount of calories is dependent on the amount of food you eat. The bigger the portion, the more calories you get. Remember, the recommended fat intake for the body is no more than 20% of your daily calories. Next time you reach for a food package, make sure that the amount of calories that comes from fat is reasonable.

  • nutritional_label_less_fat2. Less Fat is always better: Too much fat can bring about chronic diseases, such as, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and obesity. Take note: it should only be 20% of the total calories you consume. Most nutrition facts label list saturated fat and trans fat separately. But keep in mind that both are still included in the total amount of fat.

  • nutritiona-label-fiber3. Up with Fiber, Down with Sugar: High fiber foods are known to prevent cancer and heart diseases while sugary foods lead to diabetes. Choose foods that are high in fiber and low in sugar. A good goal for fiber is 25-35 grams per day.

  • food_labe_sodium_salt4. Cut back on Sodium Intake (Salt): Sodium is naturally low in whole foods, but processing and food preservatives and flavor enhancers create high sodium intake. The maximum sodium intake for a low sodium diet should be 3000 mg per day or about 1 teaspoon.

  • Now that you know the fundamental facts and figures in food label reading, make it a habit to meticulously inspect the nutritional facts of the products you buy each time. Remember, health is a valuable treasure that you can pass to your children.