Learn how to read and understand Nutrition Information Panels on food labels for proper diet and nutrition management. By being able to make healthier food picks, it indirectly supports you to manage your weight goals (i.e., gain, lose, or maintain) through a healthy food lifestyle change. If you are happy with your current weight, it will help you from going beyond weight gains through bad food choices.
Check out the key items to take note on the Nutrition Facts label:
1 – Servings
Start with the serving size and the number of servings in the package indicated at the top. Serving sizes are typically indicated in units, such as cups, pieces,number of grams. Take note of the number of serving in the package. Eg, if it indicates ‘servings per container is for 2’, you will need to buy an extra two more packets if you have 6 family members.
These are two sample label of bread.In the first label, it mentioned ‘Serving size per container:8”. It did not mention how many slices for each person. For this case, you could simply count how many slices of bread and divided by 8 servings. Alternatively, it will be more accurate, albeit inconvenient to take out that measuring scale to weight it.
The point is, be aware how many servings you would like to consume. Eg, half, one or double servings etc? If you are famished and plan to consume double servings, then remember to multiply the counts by two for a correct reflection.
2 – Calories (and Calories from Fat).
Calories are a measure energy intake from a serving of this food.
In first picture, 170 calories, in which 40 calories comes from fat. This works out to 24% is fat from this bread package
In second picture, 70 calories, in which 10 calories comes from fat. This works out to 14% is fat from this bread package
At first glance, the second bread brand will be a better choice. However, not all fats are created equal. You have bad fats and good fats too. Check out the fats breakdown. There are saturated fats, unsaturated fats and trans-fat. Choose products with low values of saturated fats and trans-fat. The ‘unsaturated fats’ are good for you as it mainly comes from oils in plants. Eating unsaturated fats may help to improve your cholesterol levels. Eating too many calories per day is leads to obesity.
- 40 Calories is low
- 100 Calories is moderate
- 400 Calories above is high
3 –Moderate consumption of these nutrients
Health experts advocate keeping your intake of saturated fat, trans–fat, cholesterol, sodium low. Eating too much will increase the risk of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure.
4 – More of these nutrients.
Get sufficient nutrients including protein, fibre, calcium, iron, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.Sufficient intake of these can improve your health and help reduce the risk of some diseases and conditions. For example, calcium will reduce the risk of osteoporosis. A high fibre diet aids healthy bowel function.
This section guides you to make better food choices. It not only tells you which nutrients you want to cut back on but also to increase those nutrients you might be lacking in.
5 – Percent % Daily Values.
The Percent % Daily Value (DV) tells you the percentage of each nutrient in a single serving, based on the daily recommended amounts. Typically for adult women, the daily calories intake is around 2000 calories and adult men around 2500 calories.
The recommended calories will also differ depending on your calorie needs based on your active physical levels, age groups and weight goals.
For example, try to consume less than 2,400mg of sodium per day for a 2,000 caloric diet.
Nutrition& Health claims
Oftentimes labels might include claims like ‘low fat’, ‘reduced salt’ or ‘high fibre’. These claims can only be printed on the label if the food meets certain criteria.
You might also come across labels like ‘high in calcium’, ‘high in protein’, use the nutrition values label to validate if these claims are true.
If the food label indicates “0 g” of trans-fat, but in its ingredients list includes “partially hydrogenated oil”, this means the food does contain trans-fat. However, if you are indeed only consuming one serving, the amount of trans-fat might be negligible or less than 0.5 grams of trans-fat. That is why being mindful of your serving size is key. It is easy to reach your daily trans-fats limits if you have more.
Even if your goal is weight loss, you can still eat or drink SOME of the foods or drinks that you love in MODERATION. You just need to decide if it is ‘calories-worthy’ and ‘beneficial nutrition wise. Be a well-informed consumer today! Swap your grocery picks today for healthier food choices through proper diet and nutrition management. .