When you do your grocery shopping, you will notice theblack and white portion in most of your food packagingwith words such as serving size, calories, fat, cholesterol, protein, vitamins, minerals, etc. This is called the
Nutrition Facts on the food labels. Some of us do not even bother to read this portion. As long as we love to eat that
food or want to try something new, these nutrition facts do not mean a thing to most of our grocery shoppers.
In previous years, reading food labels is just one mere habit
of figure-conscious individuals who want to be healthy and
fit. But nowadays, many of us are really cautious of the foods that we consume due to the sprouting of numerous deadly diseases.
For those who do not understand and not yet familiar in reading nutrition facts label, let us scrutinize these facts and learn to interpret them one by one.
1. The Serving Size. This can be found on top of the label. The serving size will tell you the size of each serving as well as the number of servings in each container. Be aware that serving sizes differ on each food label and may not equal the serving size you usually eat. If you consume twice the serving listed on the label, you have to double all the figures found in the nutritional facts section.
2. Calorie Information. This section of the label will tell you of the total number of calories per serving of the food and the number of calories that come from fat. Calories provide a measure of how much energy you obtain from consuming one serving of the food. For instance, one serving of chicken noodle soup may provide you with 200 calories with 105 calories from fat. If you finished 2 servings, you would consume 400 calories with 210 of calories derived from fat.
3. Check Total Fat. Total fat includes fats that are good for your health (monosaturated, polyunsaturated, and omega-3 fats) which are usually derived from liquid and plant sources and also the not so good fats (saturated and trans fat) which come from animal or vegetable sources. Sometimes, we can stumble upon labels stating “fat-free.” Do not confuse the term “fat-free” with “calorie-free.” Many fat-free and low-fat foods have added sugar which has calories.
4. Sodium Content. Sodium or simply table salt is a hidden ingredient in several foods especially processed foods. We should limit consuming sodium-rich foods because this may increase your risk to some diseases and conditions.
5. Cholesterol Info. Cholesterol is also one of the nutrients that we should consume less. Be aware that not all cholesterol are harmful to our body. There are two types of cholesterol. The HDL, known as the good cholesterol and the LDL or what we call bad cholesterol.
6. Identify Total Carbohydrates. This indicates the total amount of carbohydrates in the food. It includes simple carbohydrates ad sugars, complex carbohydrates and fibers. When food contains carbs, it is best if those carbohydrates have some amount of fiber.
7. Dietary Fiber. This section is important because some Americans don’t get enough of fibers in their diet. Eating foods with enough fiber can improve your health and help reduce the risk of certain medical conditions. Dietary fiber is found mostly in complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans. Remember that the higher the fiber content of a food product, the lower the sugar content in the food.
8. Watch out for the Sugar Content. The number of grams of carbohydrates per serving specifically made up of sugar. Foods with low sugar content are preferable. When looking at total carbohydrates, the closer the sugar gram value is to the total carbohydrate gram value, the less fiber you get in the food.
9. Protein. This section tells you how many grams of protein are there in each serving.
10. Look at Vitamins and Minerals. The food should contain several vitamins, such as Vitamin A, B, C, or E as well as minerals such as iron and calcium. We should get more of these nutrients in our food.
11. Percent Daily Value. This will inform you what percentage of your recommended daily allowance is provided by the serving of food. The percent daily values are based on a 2,000-calorie diet.
12. Additional Information (Recommended Amount and Calories per Gram). At the bottom of the nutrition facts label, you can see the recommended daily amount for each nutrient for both a 2,000 calorie diet as well as a 2,500 calorie diet. In some labels, you may also note the Calories per Gram of the food product. This shows the caloric weight of each macronutrient such as fats, carbohydrates and protein.
To ensure that we get enough nutrition from the foods that we buy and consume, it is best to choose products that are well balanced containing the essential nutrients that our body needs. Always check the label and do not forget that eating healthy is living a good life.