THE IMPORTANCE OF FOOD LABELS
Many consumers would like to know how to use this information on food labels more effectively and easily. However, a few quick tips can make shopping for healthy food a whole lot easier and use nutrition labels to make quick, informed food choices that contribute to a healthy diet.
Food labels are your Cheat Sheets to Good Eats
Labels give you information that can help you decide what to choose as part of an overall healthy eating plan.
For example, it may be OK to eat a sugary cereal if you make up for it by not eating much sugary stuff for the rest of the day.
Checking the labels on foods can alert you when a food is high in something like sugar so you can be prepared to make tradeoffs.
The first step in making food labels work for you is to look at the entire label. If you focus on only one part — like calories or vitamins — you may not be getting the full story, like how much sugar or fat is in the product.
Food Label Reading Tips
Here are some tips to help you get the big picture on food labels:
The first place to start when you look at the Nutrition Facts label is the serving size and the number of servings in the package. Serving sizes are somewhat standardized to make it easier to compare similar foods; they are provided in familiar units, such as cups or pieces, followed by the metric amount, e.g. the number of grams.
There is current legislation in the U.S to make serving size more relevant. If it says 3 oz, how do I know how much 3 oz is, as an example. The legislation is supposed to make it very obvious that if I eat the entire package, I am actually eating 6 servings and 4000 caloreis! Hooray! A bit of honesty!
The label will also list how many servings are in the package or bottle. Even things that seem like a single serving, such as a bottle of juice or packet of chips, may contain more than one serving.
If you eat or drink the whole thing, you’re getting more vitamins and minerals but you’re also getting way more calories, sugar, fat, and other stuff that you might not want.
A calorie is a way to measure how much energy a food provides your body. The number on the food label shows how many calories are in one serving of that food. Many Americans consume more calories than they need without meeting recommended intakes for a number of nutrients.
The calorie section of the label can help you manage your weight (i.e., gain, lose, or maintain.) Remember: the number of servings you consume determines the number of calories you actually eat.
General Guide to Calories
40 Calories is low
100 Calories is moderate
400 Calories or more is high
It goes without saying that you want to choose foods that are high in a variety of vitamins and minerals. The FDA requires food manufacturers to include information about vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron.
Sometimes you’ll see other important vitamins and minerals listed on the label, especially if the product contains significant amounts. Some vitamins — like vitamin C — are water soluble, which means that the body can’t store them so they need to be consumed daily.
The Footnote section of the label is an attempt to indicate the percent of specific nutrients and calories this item supplies when looking at an “average” diet consisting of 2000 total daily calories. The footnote usualy states * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Note the asterisk (*) used after the heading “%Daily Value” on the Nutrition Facts label. It refers to the Footnote in the lower part of the nutrition label, which tells you “%DVs are based on a 2,000 calorie diet”.
This statement must be on all food labels. But the remaining information in the full footnote may not be on the package if the size of the label is too small. When the full footnote does appear, it will always be the same.
It doesn’t change from product to product, because it sFood labels can be very confusing and tricky to understand. Often we don’t have the time to spend trying to work out what they mean and how to use them. Just because a food is high in vitamins doesn’t mean it’s healthy overall.
Sure, it’s great that your favorite cereal gives you a shot of vitamins and minerals. But what if it’s also loaded with sugar?
How to use recommended dietary advice for all Americans–it is not about a specific food product. If you follow this dietary advice, you will stay within public health experts’ recommended upper or lower limits for the nutrients listed, based on a 2,000 calorie daily diet.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that a 2000 calorie diet is a healthy diet for you, The 2000-calories is just used as a benchmark average. For me personally, if I ate 2000 calories daily, I would continually gain weight.
These percentages show the amounts of nutrients an average person will get from eating one serving of that food. Once again, as explanation, for the purposes of food labels, the government chose an “average” person as someone who needs 2,000 calories a day.
So if the label on a particular food shows it provides 25% of vitamin D, that 25% is for a person who eats 2,000 calories a day. Some teens — like those who are growing rapidly or very athletic — will need more calories than 2,000 a day.
Do you need to know how to calculate percentages to use the %DV? No, the label (the %DV) does the math for you. It helps you interpret the numbers (grams and milligrams) by putting them all on the same scale for the day (0-100%DV).
The %DV column doesn’t add up vertically to 100%. Instead each nutrient is based on 100% of the daily requirements for that nutrient (for a 2,000 calorie diet). This way you can tell high from low and know which nutrients contribute a lot, or a little, to your daily recommended allowance.
More Stats to Know
Cholesterol isn’t entirely bad for you — it’s important for the production of vitamin D and some hormones, and in building many other substances in the body. The liver manufactures most of the cholesterol a person needs, but cholesterol is also found in the foods we eat.
Sodium is a component of salt. Almost all foods contain sodium because it adds flavor and helps preserve food. Processed, packaged, and canned foods usually have more sodium than freshly made foods.
This amount of sodium is what gives packaged and processe food a bad name. The current thought is that the amount of sodium n these foods is way top high to be healthy for people that eat a high percentage of pre-pakaged and processed foods.
This amount covers all carbohydrates, including fiber and sugar. The best sources of carbohydrates are the complex carbohydrates found in fruits and vegetables, along with whole-grain foods like cereals, breads, pasta, and brown rice.
Most of your daily calorie intake should come from complex carbohydrates rather than simple carbohydrates like sugar.
Most of the body — including muscles, skin, and the immune system — is made up of protein. If the body doesn’t get enough fat and carbohydrates, it can and will use protein for energy. So be sure the foods you eat give you some protein.
Protein also has the characterisitic of making a person feel full longer, so eating protein can help with overeating and weigt control.
Eating healthy means choosing lots of different types of food throughout the day to get all the nutrients you need, such as vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fiber, and — yes — even fat.
Food labels can’t tell you what foods to eat — that’s your decision! But they can help you find foods that taste good and treat your body right. Paying attention to labels can help you eat healthy anf avoid additives that you might not want to consume.
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We purchase premium products from some of the best established and the most respected olive oil and balsamic vinegar producing families in the Mediterranean, making them readily accessible in bulk and individual quantities to our customers.
With merchandise you can trust, service you can count on, and exceptional dedication to being the best that we can be, Cibaria International has long been a leading supplier of olive oils, balsamic vinegar, as well as additional oils and vinegars, from everywhere in the world to every segment of the food industry across America and Canada.
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