Food labels can be confusing and many people do not have the time to read every one. The nutrition facts label is required by law to be placed on most packaged foods. It should work to your advantage to make quick and informed food choices that contribute to a healthy diet.??
You will find three areas of information on a food or beverage package; the front of the package messages, the Nutrition Facts Panel on the back of the box and the list of ingredients. It is best to look at the back of the package because advertising on the front of the package can be deceptive and the claims may not always be accurate.??From the best selling book,??Eat This Lose That!??Written by well-known Cardiologist, Dr. Kota J. Reddy, from the Reddy Wellness Center, explains in detail how to quickly scan labels and make smart decisions in your choices of foods.
Serving Size.??This number is at the top for a reason: The nutritional information on the rest of the label applies to one serving. The FDA sets serving sizes for all foods???they are measurements, not recommendations. Total calories are calculated per serving, as are total calories from fat, so be sure to look at the servings per container. A bag of potato chips might say it has 150 calories per serving, but the entire bag might be three servings, or 450 calories.
Total Carbohydrate.??This large category includes everything from whole grains (healthy carbs) to sugar and other refined carbs (unhealthy ones). It’s most helpful to look at the sugar and fiber numbers.
Sugars.??These simple carbohydrates include glucose, dextrose, fructose, and galactose, all of which provide little nutritional value. Sugar shows up in surprising places, like crackers, “healthy” cereals, and salad dressings. It’s often added to foods that need a flavor boost (like low-fat products).
Calories.??This information gives you the amount of calories in one serving. It also tells you how many calories are form fat. Don’t worry about the calories from fat, because FAT DOES NOT MAKE YOU FAT. It is the carbohydrates that will make you gain weight.
Sodium. Avoid as much as possible or keep consumption to less than 1,500mg per day. If the food contains a lot of sodium, drink two glasses of water first before eating to dilute the salt.
The Bad Nutrients. Limit consumption of these nutrients: Fat: Eliminate saturated fats (bad fats) and trans fats (deadly fats) or keep to less than 10 gms per day.
The Good Nutrients. The higher the proteins, fibers, vitamins and minerals the better the food item is.