Decoding Food Labels
Healthy Habits for Healthy Living
Decoding Food Labels!
For two decades the black and white nutrition facts label has offered a glance of nutritional information about what’s inside each package, including calories and grams of fats, cholesterol, protein and carbohydrates. Critics have complained that the labels are confusing and do not offer a simpler way to make a choice about whether the item is nutritious or not. Even though food labels may not be easy to understand, a recent survey conducted by the Food Marketing Institute, revealed that nutrition labels on packages had the strongest influence on grocery products purchased and that nearly one third of shoppers are purchasing food based on nutrient content. So if you have tried to read the nutrition label but have struggled to understand it, here are some simple guidelines that might make label reading a bit easier next time.
1. SERVING SIZE: Start here. The rest of the information on the label is based on this size.
2. CALORIES: Number of calories for ONE serving.
3. LIMIT THESE: An excess of these nutrients can increase your risk for several chronic health illnesses and obesity.
4. GET ENOUGH OF THESE: Eating enough of these nutrients lowers your risk for some diseases and improves your health.
5. FOOTNOTE: This reminds you that the daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
6. % DAILY VALUE (% DV): This informs you if the nutrient value is high or low. It’s an easy way to compare foods when grocery shopping based on nutrients you either want to avoid or get more of. For example, if you are trying to reduce your sodium intake, look for products with a %DV of 5% or less. If you are striving to increase fiber in your diet, look for products that have a %DV of 20% or more.
Have specific nutrition related questions? Feel free to contact me.
|___||Mary Snell, MS RD CD
Director of Nutrition and Wellness