Food nutrition is very important, whether for your over all health or for the health of those you love. But still figuring out the nutritional value of foods by reading the nutrition label can be a daunting task in it’s own right. To make the task easier I decided to come up with a list of a few important tasks to remember when reading food labels based on tips from nutritionist Keri Glassman author of The New You and Improved Diet.
What do they really mean by reduced sodium?
When a label says reduced sodium, the only amount they reduces it to is 25%. They reduce the sodium but not by much. Tricky fish.
Does calorie free really mean there are no calories?
No, not necessarily. Calorie free foods can skate by with as little as 5 grams of calories in their food. So to make sure for yourself, if you are counting your calories, read the label.
Understand Serving Sizes On Nutrition Labels
It’s really important to watch the serving size of the food you eat because all of the nutritional information found on the label are based on 1 serving. For example, let’s say that the nutrition label says there are 250 calories in a meal. Now, let’s say the label says one serving size is 1 cup. You eat that one cup, your calorie intake is 250 calories.
Now, below the serving size on the nutrition label, it will tell you how many servings are in that meal. For example, it will say something like servings per package is 2. If you eat the whole package and don’t look at the label, you have now eaten two servings (at 250 calories each). Essentially you have doubled your calorie intake to 500 calories.
Understanding Calories From Fat
Not as much of a deal now a days as it once was. It’s more important to pay attention to where the fat is coming from in the food you are eating. So here is where we look at the label. Take a look at the part of the food label that says Total Fat, beneath that it is going to tell you how many grams come from the types of fat that are in the food. For example, it could say Saturated fats 5g and Trans fats 5 grams.
Now, we all know that not all fats are created equal and that we do not need ANY trans fats in our diet. So if you read the label you might reconsider eating that food. But beware, even if a label says there is 0 grams of trans fats in their food and you see hydrogenated oils in the ingredients, there is still trans fat in the product.
Taking A Look At Carbs and Sugars
Carbs are pretty straight forward on nutrition labels. Pay attention to how many carbs are in each serving of the food you are eating. You don’t want to eat too many because it increases your insulin levels, but it is also important to look at where the carbs are coming from in the food. Also take a look at the sugar amounts. There are a ton of added sugars in foods now a days and without paying much attention you are just eating extra pounds and not even knowing it.
Note: Watch for things that end in “ous” in your ingredient list because those are added sugars. Also, look for naturally occurring sugars that come in things like fruits. Those are far better to eat.
Understanding Vitamins and Nutrients On Food Labels
Nutrients is what you want inside your foods, things like Vitamin A, C and E. The more the better here.
One Last Note
One the bottom of your nutrition label there will be a percentage daily value total. That number is for how much nutrients in the product goes toward your daily allotment. 5% is low and 20% or higher is better. With all of this information, you really need not just look at the nutrition label alone, always remember to take a look at the ingredients list as well. And, don’t forget the serving size.