Medical Perspectives | Others

September 21, 2020



Read the label. That’s a must for everyone! Understanding is key to what we are reading.

 

The ubiquitous panel at the back of most packaged food and beverage products provides information that has been deemed important and vital for us to know.

 

There are 4 basic information sections in a food label. These are, servings and calories, % daily value, nutrients and a footnote with daily values.[1] The U.S. FDA explains each as follows[2]:

 

Servings and Calories

  • Serving size is “based on the amount of food” eaten in one serving. These are standardized for easier comparison with similar food.[3]
    • Health tip: When reading this portion, take note of the number of servings per pack. This is a good way to calibrate the amount of food you take.
  • Servings per container indicates number of servings in each package.
  • Calories are obtained from different sources (fat, carbohydrate, protein, and alcohol) in one serving.
    • Health tip: Based on the calories on the label, will your calorie intake give you the energy you need?


% Daily Value

% DV is the percentage of the Daily Value for each nutrient in one serving of the food.

  • Health tip: The dietary values will help keep your nutrient intake within the recommended limits, based on a 2,000 calorie daily diet.[4]

 

Nutrients

Through the listing of nutrient content, we are able to learn the different nutrients provided by the food we are about to eat. Included in the list are total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrate, dietary fiber, sugars, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron.

  • Health tip: Make sure to get enough of the nutrients such as calcium, iron, potassium and vitamins A, C, D and E.[5]
  • Look at the serving size
  • Check the calories
  • Look at the per cent Daily Value
  • Get more of the recommended nutrients: calcium, iron, potassium and vitamins A, C, D and E
  • Lessen fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and cholesterol

 

Footnote with Daily Values

The standard footnote at the bottom of the Nutrition Facts Label indicates that some of the %DVs are based on a 2,000 calorie daily diet.[6] But there may be variations depending on the calorie needs and this may be explained in this portion as well.

 

When you read the label, take note of the following[7].

 

Now that you have a better understanding of the food label and nutritional facts, you can now select better food options which can provide you a healthier and a more balanced diet.


[1] U.S. Food & Drug Administration. [n.d.] Learn about the Nutrition Facts Label. Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/InteractiveNutritionFactsLabel/#whats-on-the-label

 

[2] U.S. Food & Drug Administration. [n.d.] Learn about the Nutrition Facts Label. Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/InteractiveNutritionFactsLabel/#whats-on-the-label

 

[3] U.S. Food & Drug Administration. [2004, November]. How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/food/nutrition-education-resources-materials/how-understand-and-use-nutrition-facts-label

 

[4] U.S. Food & Drug Administration. [2004, November]. How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/food/nutrition-education-resources-materials/how-understand-and-use-nutrition-facts-label

 

[5] American Heart Association. [2018, March]. Understanding Food Nutrition Labels. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/understanding-food-nutrition-labels

 

[6] U.S. Food & Drug Administration. [n.d.] Learn about the Nutrition Facts Label. Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/InteractiveNutritionFactsLabel/#whats-on-the-label

 

[7] UnlockFood.ca. [2019, January]. Decoding the Nutrition Label. Retrieved from https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Nutrition-Labelling/Decoding-the-Nutrition-Label.aspx

 

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