Have ever tried reading the nutrition label before buying a packaged food?
Does the complicated ingredient list, big numbers and nutrition claims confuse you?
Well, you are not alone. With the rise of consumption of pre – packaged foods on a daily basis, the rising prevalence of obesity and other diseases, faulty lifestyle habits and the lack of physical activity, it is very important to make healthy choices based on the contents of the product.
When you are stuck in dilemma while choosing the best vegetable soup out of the twenty varieties, don’t just decide based on the price.
Reading the food label correctly will help you to recognize your requirements, decipher the impact of the product on your health and control your eating habits and patterns.
Here is everything that you need to know about the nutrition label on your food.
A typical food label comprises of the following.
Deciphering the Real Meaning of Food labelling
1. Serving Size
The serving size and the number of servings per container are listed at the beginning of the nutrition label. Reading it properly is a bit tricky and the most important in regulating the intake of calories, fat and carbohydrates.
The packaged food box may contain more than one serving size and is should not be expended at one go. Always look for the serving size behind the pack because the nutritional facts of the product are stated as per one serving size only.
The serving size of the product is mentioned by weight e.g. 2 gm., by measures e.g. 1 cup or by piece e.g. 4 nos. You must take out one serving at a time as it’ll help you avoid over eating and also in keeping a tab on the nutrients that are absorbed.
2. Total Calories
The total calories stated on the pack are the amount of calories consumed per serving size.
You must look out for products that are low in calories in general. If you are trying to lose weight , you need to consume fewer calories and burn more. Use the nutrition label to compare foods and choose judiciously.
Fats’ is a crucial content of every product. On the nutrition label, the total fat content of the product is stated, and its source is further divided into saturated fats, unsaturated fats, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated fats, trans-fats and cholesterol.
Pick the product that has most of the fat content coming from unsaturated fatty acids and be careful with the products with high saturated fat content.
Avoid the trans-fats as they are known to increase the “bad” cholesterol in the body.
You should restrict consumption of products with high cholesterol as it is a leading cause of heart diseases and strokes.
Your sodium intake must not exceed 2300 milligrams.
Excess sodium intake raises blood pressure, cause fluid retention and make you prone to heart diseases. Check out the sodium content of one serving size of the product as high sodium content is also an indicative of too much processing and usage of preservatives.
Carbohydrates are a major source of energy for the body. They are absolutely essential. While looking for the carbohydrates, you should look for the source.
Choose foods with high dietary fiber and low simple sugars. Carbohydrate counting can prove beneficial if you are a diabetic or are trying to lose weight.
6. Vitamins and Minerals
They are listed at the bottom of the label and are expressed in the terms of percent daily values (% DV).
Daily values are the percentage of these nutrients that are sufficient for adult consumption on a given day. A value of more than 10% is considered to be a good source of the nutrient.
7. List of Ingredients
Every product has a list of ingredients in descending order by weight i.e. The first ingredient makes up the most of the content of the pack by weight. This can be a very essential tool.
Use it wisely to avoid foods which contain ingredients like added sugar, hydrogenated oil and food coloring. Make smart and healthy choices by opting for ingredients like whole grains, good oils like olive oil or enriched with vitamins and minerals.
The nutrition labels present on the packages are very consumer friendly and easy to read. Make reading the nutrition label a regular practice before picking up anything from the shelf.
READ IT BEFORE YOU EAT IT!
Next time you go to the super market, try reading the food label and decide wisely. Please share your experiences and queries in the comment section below.
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