NUTRITIONAL FACTS: Making a sense of it

You’ve probably switched off your attention to this, that you don’t even realize it is and has always been on every packaged food product you buy, perhaps you don’t see the use of it.
The Nutrition Facts Label is very useful, it helps you determine the amount of calories and nutrients you’re consuming and helps you know whether you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet.
The label lists the amount of fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrate, dietary fibre, sugar, protein, vitamins and minerals.


Start with the Serving Size.
Serving size is the amount of food that is typically eaten in one serving. Check for the number of servings in the package as against the serving size then compare with your portion size.
If the serving size is one cup and the number of servings is two, consuming the whole package means you’re getting twice the calories, fat and other nutrients listed on the label.

Check Out the Total Calories and Fat.
Calories provide a measure of how much energy you get from a serving. Many people consume more calories than they need without meeting recommended intakes for a number of nutrients. Checking out for the amount of calories you consume especially those from fat can help you manage your weight.
A general guide to calorie intake suggests, 40 Calories is low, 100 Calories is moderate, and 400 Calories or more is high.

Follow the Percent Daily Values.
A healthy person should consume a certain amount of fats, carbohydrates (especially fibre), protein, and vitamins and minerals each day. Certain ingredients, such as saturated fats and trans fats, are considered unhealthy and should only be eaten in very small amounts. The nutrition label provides a list of percentages (called the Percent Daily Value) that compares how much of a certain nutrient one serving of food contains to how much of that nutrient you should consume daily.

Daily Values are average levels of nutrients for a person eating 2,000 calories a day. A food item with a 5 percent DV of fat provides 5 percent of the total fat that a person consuming 2,000 calories a day should eat.

Percent DV are for the entire day, not just one meal or snack. You may need more or less than 2,000 calories per day. For some nutrients you may need more or less than 100 percent DV.
5 percent or less is low. Aim low in total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium. Eating less fat, cholesterol and sodium may help reduce your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer.
20 percent or more is high. Aim high in vitamins, minerals and fibre. Eat more fibre, vitamins A and C, calcium and iron to maintain good health and help reduce your risk of certain health problems such as osteoporosis and anaemia. Eat fruits and vegetables to get more of these nutrients.

Nutrients on the nutrition facts panel include the proteins, carbohydrates and sugars.
Most people eat more protein than they need, so a percentage Daily Value is not required on the label. Eat moderate portions of lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese, plus beans, peanut butter and nuts.
For carbohydrates, they are of three types: sugars, starches and fibre. Eat whole-grain breads, cereals, rice and pasta plus fruits and vegetables. Sugars occur naturally in foods such as fruit juice (fructose) or come from refined sources such as table sugar (sucrose) or corn syrup.


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