At first, all the numbers on the Nutrition Facts from a food label may look meaningless, but you will familiarize in time with the format and with their meaning.
The law requires that all processed foods carry a “Nutrition Facts” label and ingredient list.
It also sets strict government definitions for certain terms used and health claims made on labels. These regulations have helped discourage misleading advertising and have made food labels more useful for us, the customers.
The Nutrition Facts label must provide information on the following:
- Standard serving size
- Number of servings per container
- Number of calories per serving
- Number of calories derived from
- Total fat per serving
- Total amount of fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, dietary fiber, sugars and protein
- Total amount of certain vitamins and minerals (vitamins A and C, iron and calcium)
- Percentage of the daily value for a person requiring 2000 calories per day.
Ingredient information is required on all manufactured food products. If the product is imported, the label must provide the right information in the official language of the country where it is sold. Ingredients are listed in order of decreasing weight, therefore, the first ingredient listed is the most prominent.
Light, low-fat, cholesterol-free: what does it mean?
Label claim and definition (per serving):
- Calorie-free = Less than 5 calories
- Low Calorie = 40 calories or less
- Light or Lite = 1/3 fewer calories or 50% less fat than regular version
- Light in Sodium = 50% less sodium
- Fat-free = Less than 1/2 gram of fat
- Low-fat = 3 grams or less of fat
- Cholesterol-free = Less than 2 mg. cholesterol and 2 grams or less of saturated fat
- Low Cholesterol = 20 mg or less of cholesterol and 2 grams or less of saturated fat
- Sodium- free = Less than 5 mg of sodium
- Very Low Sodium = 35 mg or less of sodium
- Low Sodium = 140 milligrams or less of sodium
- High Fiber = 5 grams or more of fiber
Can a food help reduce the risk for a disease?
Many food packages now carry health claims. A health claim is a label statement that describes the relationship between a nutrient and a disease or health-related condition. A food must meet certain nutrient levels to make a health claim. Some labels also carry “Qualified Health Claims,” because the scientific evidence is not as well established.
Take your time when you go shopping and carefully read the labels! This is a healthy habit that can put you in control of your calorie and nutrition intake. There are many company that still benefit from the fact that you don’t give importance to the label and they try to make you buy different stuff that you would not normally buy. There are also some other companies that try to avoid the law or your vigilance and hide the nutrition information. I personally refuse to buy those products and choose to buy a more expensive one, but I feel better knowing that I can choose what to feed my body.
Here is a great example of how the producers will try to fool you! Be aware and happy shopping!
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Filed under: Nutrition, Tips by Nessie