How to Read Food Labels!
In 1990, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) was passed which required all packaged foods to bear nutritional information and health claims. The ingredient panel, serving sizes and the terms “light” and “low fat” were all standardized and the first template that was created then is pretty much the same label as we recognize today. With food companies having to legally label all of their foods as well as what ingredients were in each item, consumers began to be more aware of what they were eating—the good and the bad. By having all packaged foods labeled, the choice was now in the consumer’s hands as to their own health as far as what they chose to consume. Today, our health conscious society is very conscious of looking at food labels but sometimes they can be confusing to read—here is a guide to reading those tricky labels all provided by the American Heart Association:
- Start at the very top of the label where it lists the serving size and serving per container information. Remember that the serving size may not be the entire bag so the actual nutritional information that’s listed is only true for the serving size.
- Under the serving size information will be the calories and calories from fat.Keep in mind that the amount of calories in a food serving is based off of a 2,000 calorie diet and the following apply:
- · 40 calories per serving is considered low
- · 100 calories per serving is moderate
- · 400 calories or more per serving is considered high
- Below the calorie information will be the nutrients you will want to be mindful of because they are the ones that you want to intake. Total fat intake should be no more than 56-78 grams a day—including no more than 16 grams of saturated fat, less than two grams of trans fat and less than 300 mg cholesterol. It’s very important to note that less than 20 calories a day should be trans fat so be aware of the serving sizes and how much you are going to eat!
- Under the nutrient section is the protein, dietary fiber and vitamin percent numbers. You want to make sure that you get 100% of the fiber, vitamins and other nutrients you need every day so the larger the percent, the better the food!
Other than the Nutritional Facts panels on the back of packaged foods, consumers need to be aware of the marketing verbs on the front as well. Here is a list of the most popular key words and what they really mean:
- · Free: The food has the least possible amount of the specified nutrient. Ex. Sugar free
- · Low & Very Low: The food has a little more of the specified nutrient than foods labeled free
- · Less/Reduced: The food has 25% less of the specified nutrient than the regular version of the food.
By having the knowledge to read a nutritional label accurately, consumers can take control of their health and have the choice as to what food is better for them and their family.
Disclaimer: The Escali blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment More