Monday, April 7, 2014

Understanding the Nutrition Facts Label

Hey Guys! Sorry for the little blog hiatus. It's been such a busy couple of weeks. I'm back at it though, and hopefully will be able to write ahead enough to leave you with some blog posts while I take a little maternity leave. That's the plan, we'll see if it actually happens or not... fingers crossed. 

I wanted to talk a little about the food label. Pretty sure we've all seen one and probably have a good idea of how to use it, but it never hurts to refresh.... and there's probably a number or item on there that some of us really aren't familiar with. So, here goes nothin...


1. Serving Size: The first thing you should look at is the serving size and servings per container. If you skip over this part you might be consuming more calories a day than you think you are. On this particular label the serving size is 1 cup, but there's 2 servings for the whole container. That means if you eat the whole box in one sitting you need to multiply all the values like calories, fat, protein, etc. by two. Got it? Good. 

2. Calories: We are probably all pretty good at checking the calories, but do you really know what that number means? We'll talk about this more later, but food labels are based on a 2000 Calorie diet. A quick guide for calories is 40 or less is considered low, 41-100 is considered moderate, and 400 or more is considered high. In the case of this label, this food item is in the moderate category. However, you might notice that almost half of those calories come from fat, so even though the calories are in the moderate range... it doesn't mean that this is the healthiest choice. 

3. Saturated Fat, Cholesterol, and Sodium: These are the bad boys you want to limit. It's recommended that you get as little as possible of these nutrients. We'll talk about what the % Daily Value (% DV) means here in just a minute. 

4. Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin, C, Calcium, and Iron: These are the things you want to make sure you're getting enough of. They'll help protect you against things like heart disease and osteoporosis. 

5. The Footnote: This is where you'll find the statement that the food label is based on a 2000 Calorie diet. It's also where you'll find the suggested amounts of what you should be getting in a day. It might not be on every food label, but when it is it will always be the same.

6. % Daily Value: So, I've mentioned a few times that the food label is based on a 2000 Calorie diet. So, these percentages are based on that 2000 Calories. However, even if you don't eat 2000 Calories a day you can still use these percentages to help you know if what you're eating is high or low in these things. Like the picture says, 5% or less is considered low (which is what you want for those nutrients we said you should limit) and 20% or more is considered high. 

Hope this little post helps you out!