We’ve all seen those informative labels on the back of our packed food purchases. How did dieters every get along without them? If you’re like most people, you probably check out the serving size, the calories and, perhaps, the sodium level, but what about the rest?
There is so much more to learn!
Surprisingly not all food labels are the same. For obvious reasons, a bottle of soda water has less information than, say, a can of kidney beans.
Here’s a quick guide to the most common food labels. Generally speaking, less is better:
How To Read Food Labels
The percentages in food labels are based on a 2,000-calorie adult diet. That’s important to know, especially if you are on a higher or lower calorie diet program.
Serving size – Checking out serving sizes is one thing, but the number of servings in the package is also important.
If you have a bag of diet popcorn and the serving size is one cup with there are five servings per bag, you may be doing something wrong (like measuring!) if the bag is empty after you’ve had four snacks.
Total Fats – This includes good fats such as mono and polyunsaturated fats, and fats that are not so good, such as saturated and transfats.
Cholesterol and sodium – These numbers tell you how much cholesterol and sodium (salt) are in a single serving.
These are important numbers for both dieters and people who simply want to be healthy.
The American Heart Association recommends eating less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium each day. That bag of potato chips could blow your intake in one sitting.
Carbohydrates – There are three types of carbohydrates: sugars, starches and fiber.
Calories and Fat – It’s important to find out how many calories are in a serving and how many of those calories are from fat.
Total fat 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.
Percent Daily Values – The percent Daily Values (DV) tells you the percent of each nutrient in a single serving.
A food with a 5 percent DV of fat provides 5 percent of the total fat that a person consuming 2,000 calories a day should eat. Note: Percent DV are for the entire day.
List of Ingredients – This helpful list, in teeny tiny type at the bottom of the label, is often overlooked. Ingredients are listed in descending order by the largest proportion of the food.
The list can be a revelation form all those nasty hydrogenated oil or partially-hydrogenated oil (high in transfats) to the good whole grains.
Don’t glaze over when it comes to food labels. It’s important information