We often find people looking at a nutrition label in grocery stores, but only a small percentage of them can interpret the nutrition label correctly. With today’s variety of packaged foods, it has become essential to know what ingredients and how much we are consuming. Understanding nutrition label numbers can be quite difficult, however, there is a way we can use this information clearly and effectively.
What is a Nutrition Label?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandates that all pre-packaged foods must have a nutrition label. Food manufacturers should use these labels to effectively convey product information to the consumer. The nutrition label helps the health conscious consumer to make an informed decision about the nutritional value of the food. This also helps the consumer to avoid certain ingredients if they follow a special diet. Seafood and fresh produce are exempt from the use of the nutrition label.
Nutrition label and its parts
The nutrition label looks like a table and is printed in black and white mostly on the back or side of the packaged product. It is sometimes referred to as a panel of nutritional plans. It consists of four main parts: serving size information, calorie information, nutrients, and percentage value per day. We will examine each part individually.
Server size information
It is recommended that you read the serving information or serve size information first while reviewing the nutrition label. Ration size is the amount that people usually eat as part of a balanced diet, such as a cup of nuts or a cookie. This amount of food comes with a metric value, such as 100 grams of nuts.
The size of the serving is important because it depends on the reading of the rest of the information on the label. Calorie information, nutrient information and the value of the percentage of the day are based on this serving size. So if you’re consuming 2 cups of nuts (2 servings), you’re consuming twice as many nutrients and calories. You should also double the value of your daily percentage to get accurate information about your particular service.
This part of the label also contains information on the total number of servings of packaged food. For example, 500 grams of nuts can contain 5 servings per bowl.
Calories are a unit of energy. This energy is released when food breaks down in our body. Calorie information is the second part of the nutrition label. Indicates the number of calories in a serving. For example, a serving of nuts contains 150 calories. If you consume 2 servings of nuts, you will consume 300 calories.
This calorie information can be used as a tool for healthy diet choices. Controlling calorie intake is essential, as increasing consumption is associated with weight gain.
The third part of the nutrition label provides information about the nutrients contained in a serving of packaged food or drink. This product-specific information helps consumers find specific foods according to their needs. Some of the main nutrients listed are total fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, dietary fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. These categories may fall into the subcategories of manufacturers, such as different types of fats and carbohydrates.
Below the total fats, we can mention the amount of saturated and trans fats, as these types of fats are considered healthy and should be taken into account. Also, whole sugars include natural and added sugars. The amount of added sugar can be mentioned below the total sugar as it is added while the food is being processed, and healthy consumers may want to control their sugar consumption.
Percentage of daily value information (% DV)
The daily value is the amount of nutrients that should be consumed daily. The daily percentage value (% DV) is listed on each nutrient label. It is nutrient specific. It refers to the portion of the daily value of the nutrient in a serving. For example, if you have 25% saturated fat in a product and have taken a serving, it means that you have consumed 25% of the recommended saturated fat per day.
The daily percentage value makes it easier for you to determine your daily nutrient intake as the consumer calculates. It also helps the consumer decide whether the food they eat is nutritious. This can limit certain nutrients or increase your intake of other nutrients.
In addition, the FDA provides a general guide to help you decide if a% DV of a nutrient is high or low. If the% DV% of a nutrient is 5% or less, this means that it is low in nutrients. On the other hand, DV contains 20% or more of this nutrient. For example, if DV% is 25% of saturated fat in a serving, this means that the food is high in saturated fat.
Health experts suggest that nutrients such as saturated fats, added sugars, and sodium should be low in% DV. On the other hand, nutrients such as vitamin D, potassium and dietary fiber should have a high DV%.
The nutrition label shows information on the number of calories, and lists the nutrients in the packaged food and the corresponding% DV. It helps health-conscious consumers make quick decisions about their diet. In addition, nutrition labels can also be used by educators and health professionals to provide information on packaged foods and beverages.