Are you fascinated with fancy words like “low fat”, “Extra Protein”, “Rich in Fiber”, “Low Sugar Content” while you go shopping for your daily grocery items? Food labels are constantly shouting about how healthy they are for our health, but are they actually that good? Most of the people have low or no knowledge about nutrition labels, which results in picking up the product with most catchy tagline or special content. But in today’s health-conscious world, you’re probably more than curious about what you’re eating. This guide will help you easily navigate the nutrition facts and ingredient lists on foods, allowing you to make a well directed decision about the food items you pick and eat –
1. Serving Size
Though serving size are universal in nature, but if you don’t have pre-portioned food, there are high chances that you’re eating more than the serving size. To figure out how much you’re eating, use either a measuring cup or a food scale to measure the portion you normally eat and then compare it to the nutrition label. There is high probability of you seeing that your cereal portion is accounting for a few more calories than you planned. For accurate calories and nutrition, measure your food according to the serving size.
The next on the label comes fats. Though they have gained some bad reputation amongst the weight watchers, but it is important to consider that they are highly essential for brain, organ, and heart to function. Since you are really conscious about your weight beware of saturated and trans fats. You should always try to avoid trans fats; saturated fats aren’t healthy, but you can have some in your diet in low quantities. While fat isn’t bad for you, you shouldn’t be getting more than 20-30 grams of it per meal, so watch for labels that are super high in fat!
3. Cholesterol & Sodium
Before deciding amount the maximum limit intake of both sodium and cholesterol be extra careful as they are not good for heart health. It is advised to talk to your doctor to discuss specific numbers for each!
Fiber amounts are always located beneath carbohydrates on nutrition labels. An average man should have 30-40gms/day and women in should have 20-30gms/day. Fiber helps regulate bowel movements, as well as cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Iron, calcium, and vitamins play an essential role in maintaining general health and prevent against issues like anemia or osteoporosis. While some processed foods contain these vitamins, you should try to get most of these nutrients from fruits and vegetables.
Sugar gets its own section on the nutrition label owning to the high level of negative impact it has on our health. Keep in mind that naturally-occurring sugar, like you find in fruit is the only kind of sugar that is good for health. You should never eat a product with too much added sugar. A general rule is that if sugar is listed as one of the first three ingredients, try to avoid that food.
7. Ingredient List
The ingredients are listed in the descending order of weight. This means that the ingredient that weighs the most will be listed first. This can be helpful when trying to discern what exactly you’re eating. Keep in mind, the less ingredients, the better.
8. Zero Calories Food Items
There is no such thing as zero calorie food. Any food, no matter how healthy the ingredients are, will contain at least some calories. So are such food items a lie? Actually No! Foods get labelled as “zero calorie” because the serving size listed on the nutrition label does offers zero calories, but if you consume more than the serving size, chances are you’re now absorbing some calories. Not only this, these zero-calorie foods confuse your body and can lead you to eat more, because your body is trying to process calories that aren’t there. It is advised to stick to simple, whole foods, and ignore the fake products with such flashy labels.