How To Read Nutrition Labels
There are many reasons people need to know how to read nutrition labels. Some people have to limit their sugar, salt or cholesterol intake. Being able to read the nutrition label can be very important in determining the proper food choices for their diet. The following is an explanation of the different sections of the nutrition labels found on your foods.
You will need:
- to know the serving size
- a list of nutrients you need or don’t need in your diet
- what the safe amounts are that you can include in your daily intake
- Check the serving size. The first line of the nutrition label will tell you two things: the serving size and how many servings are in the container. Understand that the amount on the nutrition label is just for a single portion, not the entire container. They amounts may be listed by cups or metric measurements.
- Calorie information is listed next. If you are counting calories, be sure to check the next line on the nutrition label. Knowing how many calories may be important if you are trying to lose or gain weight. The calorie count is also only for a single serving. If the nutrition label says there are two servings, remember to double the calorie count if you plan to eat both.
- Nutrients you may need to limit are grouped next. Most people try to limit their fat content, but most importantly their trans fat content. Over to the right of each nutrient are the amounts of your daily percentage a serving includes. After the fat content is the cholesterol amount. If you have heart problems and/or high cholesterol, this figure can be important. If you have high blood pressure or a problem that limits your salt content, the next figure is for sodium. Check your total allowable amounts to see if this food falls within your limits.
- Check for total carbohydrates. It is important to know whether the carbohydrates are sugar or fiber. People with diabetes need to limit their carb intake per their doctor’s recommendations. Carbs with a high fiber content pass through the digestive tract slower than sugar and help to keep blood sugar from spiking.
- Check for vitamin and mineral content. The next section contains all the vitamins and minerals that are included in one portion. Any amount over 20% of the daily recommended percentages is high. You may need foods that contain calcium, iron, omega-3s, or certain other nutrients. This is where you will check to see if the food contains the nutrients you need in your diet.
- The footnote contains the average daily amounts that are recommended in a healthy diet. This section will break down the percentages of the Daily Value each serving contains. The percentages are based on a 2000 calorie a day diet. There are a couple of different formats, but both contain percentages based on the 2000 calorie diet.
- Some labels will contain information for protein content. If you are counting proteins the information will be listed on the line under the carbohydrates.
Knowing how to read nutrition labels can help you plan healthy and nutritious meals. Nutrition labels also help you keep track of your daily caloric, protein, fat, salt and sugar intake. Be sure to follow your doctor or nutritionist’s guideline for amounts of nutrition that are recommended specifically for you.