Reading Labels is an Important Part of Nutrition

by Benedict Smythe

Posted on Friday 31st of October 2008

Nowadays, almost all of the products that are purchased like food and drinks have labels containing necessary nutrition information. The necessary nutrition facts include servings per container, serving size, calories per serving, calories from fat, total fat, polyunsaturated fat, potassium, sodium, cholesterol content, dietary fibres, carbohydrates, protein content and sugars.

Additional facts on nutrition include mineral content which are solid homogenous and inorganic substances that are found in nature. Vitamin-content is also an important part of each label.

Additional ingredients may also be included on the list. Most of these nutrition data are based on a 2,000-2,500 calorie diet.

Breaking the Common Notion

Scientific knowledge and nutrition are the bases for nutrition facts. Most consumers are confused over carbohydrates and calorie-content on foods. Some have the notion that carbohydrates cause weight gain when in fact, carbs are meant to fuel the body by powering up each cell. Carbohydrates are made up of oxygen, hydrogen and carbon. Carbohydrates are found in foods such as vegetables, milk, honey, fruits, syrups, sugars, and grains.

Tips on Reading Labels

It would surprise you that reading food labels also involves basic computations such as subtraction, addition, multiplication and division. Knowing how to read labels on foods will enable you to make a knowledgeable decision as to whether or not a certain product would be beneficial for you.

It is always best to read food labels from top to bottom. The top portion often lists the amount which makes up a single serving. The next figure lists the total servings that are included in the package. Moving down the list, you would notice that you will see the exact amount of calories, fat, sodium and other nutrients. To the right of these nutrients, you would find the percentage of daily value that is required for these nutrients.

Not all of these percentages apply to you (or even to a majority of people) so don’t get too concerned over the percentages. What you should be looking for are the vitamins and minerals that the product contains.

When you are concerned about weight loss, you must be concerned about the number of calories that each product would contribute. The sodium content is the next thing that you should be worried about (eating too much sodium would make your body store extra fluid, thus, you will look bloated).

Understanding Daily Values

Daily values are an important part of the nutrition label. They are the best guide that you can have toward healthy eating and they can replace the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowances. Daily values are listed for 2,000-2,500 calorie consumption each day. If you are required to eat less, then your personal daily value may be lower (if you are required to eat more, then your daily values should also be properly adjusted).

The percentage of daily value is a good tool to check a food’s nutrient content. According to the USFDA, the American Heart Association, and the American Diabetes Association, these are the nutrient daily values for 2,000 and 2,500 calorie consumptions:

Total fat
Less than 65 grams for 2,000 calorie diets
Less than 80 grams for 2,500 calorie diets

Saturated fat
Less than 20 grams
Less than 25 grams

Less than 300 milligrams for both diets

Total carbohydrate
Less than 300 grams
Less than 375 grams

Less than 2,400 milligrams for both calorie diets

25 grams
30 grams

Understanding the contents of labels would be tantamount to knowing the value of nutrition that you would be consuming so take time to read the next time you purchase any type of food.

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