Understanding food labels
In order to plan a healthy
diet, we must know how to read a food label. Food labels show us if
a food has a little or a lot of certain nutrients. Look on the side
of a product to find the Nutrition Facts title.
You will find the serving
size of the food below the nutrition facts title. Similar food products
have similar serving sizes. The servings per container are also included
to let you compare what you actually eat with the serving size on that
product. So remember, if the serving size is 1 cup and you eat 2 cups,
then you will need to double the numbers on the label.
% Daily values are listed
to give you an idea of how one serving of a product contributes nutritionally
to a 2000 calorie diet. Use the % daily values to see if a food has
a little or a lot of a nutrient.
The amount of calories in
one serving of the product is listed. Only a few nutrients are listed
on the Nutrition Facts label-those that relate to today's most important
The label lists total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium because
people eat too much of these.
Fiber, vitamins A and C,
calcium and iron are listed because people do not eat enough of these
everyday. You should try to eat at least 100% of the daily value of
each of these everyday.
Fat, saturated fat, cholesterol,
total carbohydrate, fiber, sugars, protein, vitamins A and C, calcium
and iron are required on the label. Other nutrients may be listed if
the company would like to list them.
What are nutrients?
Nutrients are substances
found in food that are needed for good health. Your body can't make
nutrients, so they must be supplied by food. During digestion, food
is broken down into nutrients, which are absorbed into your bloodstream
and carried to every cell in your body. More than 40 nutrients in food
are classified into six groups: carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins,
minerals and water. Each nutrient has a specific function and they all
work together for your good health.
the body's main source of energy or calories. Carbohydrates are classified
in two groups: complex carbohydrates (starches) and sugars. Fiber, which
is another carbohydrate, aids digestion and helps fight some diseases
but is not a nutrient because it is not digested and absorbed by the
energy and amino acids. Amino acids are building blocks that build,
repair, and maintain every cell in your body.
Fats- also supply
energy but they have many other functions. Fats transport nutrients
and they are a part of many body cells. Fats provide storage and insulation
for your body. Carbohydrates and proteins that are not needed for energy
are stored as fat.
many different body processes. These compounds are needed in very small
amounts in the diet to regulate chemical reactions in the body. Each
vitamin has a specific job in your body, so one vitamin can't replace
another. Vitamins do not provide energy but they help our bodies use
the energy from foods.
Minerals- are like
vitamins and are used in the body to promote chemical reactions and
form body structures.
Water- is a part
of every cell and tissue in the body. Water carries nutrients to cells
and removes wastes products. Water is also needed to help regulate body
temperature. Water makes up 55-75% of your body weight.