Knowing how to read nutrition labels can help you understand portion size and choose which foods you’ll eat. Some food manufacturers declare a small portion size to keep the calorie count low. Nabisco Oreo Cookies are 160 calories for only 3 cookies. Two tablespoons of Kraft Ranch Dressing are 110 calories. Does anyone actually eat only 3 cookies or use only 2 tablespoons of dressing on their salad? Being aware of the portion size and calories in each portion can change how much you eat or the brand of food you eat.
Calories and portion size are not the only things to consider when you’re choosing what to eat.
FDA regulations require food labels contain the following information.
• Calories from fat
• Total fat
• Total carbohydrate
• Trans fats
• Dietary fiber
• Vitamin A
• Vitamin C
Other information is optional.
• Vitamin D
• Vitamin E
• Thiamin (Vitamin B1)
• Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
• Niacin (Vitamin B6)
• Vitamin B12
• Pantothenic Acid
There are only 2 instances where the optional nutritional information becomes mandatory – when the supplement is added to enrich food and when there is a health claim on the label.
The % Daily Value is also listed so that you can see how much of the MINIMUM daily requirement of that nutrient is in each serving. All the information given is based on a 2,000 calorie a day diet. Do you know how many calories you need each day?
Start reading the label . . .
- What is the serving size?
- How many calories are in each serving?
- What is the % Daily Value? (5% or less is very little, 15% or more is a lot)
- Choose more fiber, Vitamins A and C, iron, and calcium.
- Choose less fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, and cholesterol.
The nutrition label is the first step to good choices. Spend your food dollars on wholesome choices by using the information on the labels. Reading food labels while shopping can be time consuming – SO, check the labels on the food you already have. Decide which items you’ll look for better choices.
It’s a process!