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Having a Better Grasp on what is stated on Nutritional Labels

Updated on August 11, 2011

Lately there are many health experts advising the general public to read food labels. It is important to protect one’s health by being aware of what is contained in the food one is consuming. Many seemingly, harmless food choices are tainted by hidden sugars and additives that make them bad for your health. When reading food labels it is important to focus on key ingredients.

The ingredients that make a food a more favorable choice would be a food containing a high percentage of fiber, vitamins and minerals. It is also vital that food be low in certain undesirable ingredients that are known to undermine health. These would be sodium, which raises blood pressure and saturated fat, which often contribute to high cholesterol levels.

Food labels contain eight basic parts to their listings of what would be contained in a certain food. These are the following:

  • Serving sizes
  • Calories
  • Percentages
  • Amount of fat contained in that food
  • Salt (amount of sodium)
  • Percentage of carbohydrates
  • Percentage of nutrients
  • Footnotes stating what the percentages mean based on 2000 calories diet.

Serving Sizes: This is much easier when it is a package of food that can be divided, on the other hand, if it is a beverage the standard is set at eight oz, therefore, if a beverage is twenty ounces that’s two and half serving. However, if you want a big beverage look at the calories per serving they add up and this could contribute to weight problems.

Calories: This is a composite of the calories supplied from all sources, including carbs, fats, and proteins. If you are trying to loose weight, this number will matter to you. Remember to multiply the number of calories times the number of servings, that way you know how many calories per package. Most of all, try to avoid empty calories contained in sugary, high fat items.

Percentages: This number shows how much of each nutrient a single serving provides compared to your needs for the entire day. It also helps in limiting certain nutrients such as fat. If you have reached your limit, you may want to make a different choice.

Fat Percentage: One must be careful with fats, especially unhealthy fats such as transfat. Make sure to check for hydrogenated and partly hydrogenated fats, since this may be a transfat cover-up. Anything that contains less than three grams of fat is considered to be low in fat. For a product to be considered low in cholesterol it has to contain 20 mgs or less, plus 2 grams or less of saturated fat.

Sodium: This number is of great concern for those who have high blood pressure. Products that are considered sodium free contain less than 5mgs per serving.

Percentage of Carbohydrates: This part of the label has two sublistings. If one of these listing happens to be fiber, this number is favorable if it is higher. Most people in the US do not get their 25-38 grams of daily fiber needed for maintaining a healthy body. Foods that contain 5grams or more of fiber are high fiber foods. One should look for foods that contain at least 3 grams. The other sublisting is sugar and this is something that you would want to limit in your diet. Look for multiple sugars sources such as honey, molasses and anything that ends in ose. For a product to be considered sugar-free it must contained less than half a gram per serving.

Nutrients: This section lists how much calcium, iron, and vitamin A and C the food contains. In this particular area, the more the better, this food is rich in nutrients and therefore more nutritious.

Footnotes: This give the percent of the daily values in compared to a 2000 calorie diet. If your diet calls for less calories or less of a particular nutrient than it is wise to go by your own needs rather than the footnotes.

Ingredients List: The nutritional facts are in conjunction with the listed ingredients. A list of ingredients is required on all labels by law. The most prominent ingredients are listed first and than each of the following ingredients have lesser amounts. The ingredient at the bottom of the list is the one that has the least amount.

When making food choices it is important to be well informed. Understanding food labels is vital to making good food choices. It is important to look at the percentages on the labels. So if you want to shop wisely watch those labels.

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    • Internetwriter62 profile imageAUTHOR

      Internetwriter62 

      7 years ago from Marco Island, Florida

      Thank you HealthyHanna, when it comes to reading labels, I had a lot to learn till I got educated on the matter and started doing research, and because labels are so important to safeguarding one's health, it bears not only mentioning but also repeating. Thank you so much for passing this information along, I know that it will help others to safeguard their health as well, I truly appreciate your help.

    • HealthyHanna profile image

      HealthyHanna 

      7 years ago from Utah

      Good information for beginners. I know a lot of people just learning to read lables. I'll pass this along.

    • Internetwriter62 profile imageAUTHOR

      Internetwriter62 

      8 years ago from Marco Island, Florida

      Thank you MyWebs, I'm glad you liked the cartoon and article, the internet has some great cartoons for all articles. I add cartoons when I find them.

    • MyWebs profile image

      Anthony Goodley 

      8 years ago from Sheridan, WY

      I like the cartoon too, so true. Another great hub. Rated up and tweeted.

    • Internetwriter62 profile imageAUTHOR

      Internetwriter62 

      8 years ago from Marco Island, Florida

      Thanks Sandyspider, I'm glad you appreciate a little humor on the subject.

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Love that cartoon. So true! Thanks for the information.

    • Internetwriter62 profile imageAUTHOR

      Internetwriter62 

      8 years ago from Marco Island, Florida

      Thanks Mr Davis, food labels are our best defense and yet, there are still many things that they can hide from us. I guess, it's up to the consumer to look out for themselves and their families. If possible try to warn others.

    • Terry B. Davis profile image

      Terry B. Davis 

      8 years ago

      Good information, also look for hidden sugars, such as HFCS(high frutose corn sryup).

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