Understanding the nutrition facts label can help in making healthier choices. However, food labels are quite difficult to decipher, especially after looking at uncommon terms, thus making it confusing to determine if the food item is good or not.
Even though advertising has enabled people to make easier choices by mentioning terms like ‘fresh’, ‘organic’, etc. this necessarily does not mean they are healthy. We will tell you the 8 things to look out for in the nutrition facts label and understanding their calorie count for a meal-
Nutrition Facts Label and Calorie Count: An Overview
Here are the most important facts you should look out for on the label to understand its calorie count and health effects.
- Serving Size
The serving size mentioned on the nutrition facts label will tell you the size of a single serving and the total number of servings in the package. This information is critical as it helps in understanding everything else on the label. Certain manufacturers consider a single-serve food as two servings to make the number appealing to consumers.
- Dietary Fiber
Dietary fiber is the portion from the food that cannot be completely broken down by human digestive enzymes. In most cases, it is ideal to consume at least 25 grams of dietary fiber in your daily diet due to its low calorie count. For a food that is rich in dietary fiber, the nutrition fact label must reflect at least 5 grams per serving.
- % Daily Value
The % Daily Value is the percentage of the contribution of nutrients from the specific food item. The rough percentage gives a fair idea of a certain nutrient that the food supplies. Choosing foods with lower % DV will limit the intake of a particular nutrient whereas higher % DV will help in consuming more of a nutrient.
- Calorie Count
The calories on the nutrition label are generally for a single serving. Even though it is written in big and bold letters, sometimes it becomes difficult to comprehend the number. After assessing the calorie count for a single serving, understand the amount of calorie intake for the entire package.
- Sodium per serving
As a food ingredient, sodium has different uses. In fact, various food additives including monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), and others, too have sodium in it. As per health experts, sodium should be limited to 2,300 mg per day (less than 1 tablespoon) for healthy adults and 1500 mg for people with high blood pressure.
Fat has more calorie count per gram than any other nutrient including carbs or proteins. All fats have 9 calories/ gram. When looking at the nutrition facts label, it is important to choose food items that have unsaturated fats and less saturated and trans fats.
Termed in various forms, sugar is the direct form of carbohydrates present in the food items and has the maximum calorie count. According to health experts, it is ideal to consume less than 10 percent of total calories on a daily basis. To calculate the sugar added, multiply the sugar in grams present in a serving by the total number of servings of the package. This will calculate the total grams of sugar. Divide this by 4 to get the number of tablespoons of sugar added in the drink.
- Ingredient List
Another critical information in the nutrition food list is the list of all the ingredients contained in the product by weight. The first ingredient mentioned in the list is generally the main ingredient whereas the one listed in the last is present in the least amount. The reason why it is important to check the ingredient list is to assess if there are any ingredients that can trigger allergies.
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Diabetes and Nutrition Facts Label: Tips & Tricks
Now that we understand the important factors to look out for in the nutrition food list, here are a few tips and tricks to manage the blood sugar level after a meal.
- Try to include ingredients that are healthy for your heart such as whole-wheat flour, oats, and soy
- Look out for monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, canola, and peanut oil to promote healthy heart function
- Do not forget to look at the carbohydrates as per grams. This includes complex carbohydrates, sugar, fiber, etc.
- Keep an eye for high-fiber foods
- Do not fall for fat-free and sugar-free advertisements. Please ensure to read the nutrition facts carefully.
A diabetes diet requires you to take care of what goes inside in the name of food. This is why you should pay attention to little details and make the best choices!