Reading nutrition labels can be a daunting task. There are so many numbers and percentages that it’s hard to know what each means or how they all contribute to the total calorie count. If you’re trying to lose weight, track your calories for weight loss, or want to learn more about food labeling in general, here are some tips from Dr Ryan Shelton on how to read nutritional labels correctly!
What Does a Nutrition Label Tell you about the Food?
A nutrition label is a document that provides information about the nutritional content of a food item. It includes details like the ingredients, serving size, calories, fat (saturated and unsaturated), cholesterol, sodium, and other nutrients. The label also lists any common allergens in the food.
How to Read a Nutrition Label
The best way to read a nutrition label is to start with the total calorie count at the top. From there, you can work your way down and figure out how many of each nutrient is in one serving of the food.
Ingredients: The ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. This means that the first ingredient on the list is present in the largest quantity.
Serving Size: This is the amount of food considered one serving.
Calories: The number of calories in a single serving of food.
Fat (Saturated and Unsaturated): This shows how much fat is in a single serving, both saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats are bad for your health and should be limited, while unsaturated fats are healthy and should make up most of your daily fat intake.
Cholesterol: Cholesterol can raise your risk for heart disease, so it’s important to know how much is in a single serving of food.
Sodium: Sodium can increase blood pressure, so watching your sodium intake is important. This column tells you how many milligrams of sodium are in a single serving.
Other Nutrients: This column includes other nutrients like fiber, sugar, and protein. It’s important to be aware of all the nutrients in a food, not just the ones highlighted in the other columns.
Common Nutritional Claims
Food manufacturers often make claims about their products on the nutrition label. These claims can be misleading, so it’s important to understand what they mean before trusting them. Some common nutritional claims include “low fat,” “fat-free,” “high fiber,” and “cholesterol-free.”
“Low Fat” vs. “Fat-Free”– “Low fat” means less than three grams of fat per serving. “Fat-free” means less than one gram of fat per serving. The FDA regulates neither of these claims, so they may not be completely accurate.
“High Fiber” vs. “Cholesterol Free”– “High fiber” means five grams or more of fiber per serving. “Cholesterol free” means less than 20 milligrams of cholesterol per serving. These claims are both regulated by the FDA and should be accurate.
Comparing Labels between Brands
Nutrition labels can vary from brand to brand, so it’s important to compare them before purchasing a food item. The nutritional content may be different depending on the company that made it.
What You Need to Know
Understanding how to read a nutrition label is important. It’s the best way to make sure you’re eating a balanced diet and getting all of your nutrients, which can prevent health problems like heart disease and diabetes. Make sure to take advantage of food labels when grocery shopping!
It’s important to read and understand nutrition labels to make informed decisions about what you’re buying. If your nutritional needs differ from the average person’s, this is especially true! Nutrition labels can vary by brand, so it pays off to compare them before purchasing. The only thing that isn’t regulated on food packaging is claims like “fat-free” or “cholesterol-free.”