As consumers, we are constantly bombarded with an array of food products and labels, making it increasingly difficult to distinguish between what’s good for us and what’s not. In a world where healthy eating has become a trend, it is crucial to understand food labels if you want to buy and eat better. Here is a guide on how you can break down food labels and make informed choices.
Serving size and servings per container:
One of the most important things to look at when reading a food label is the serving size. Portions can be deceiving, especially if you’re not aware of the recommended serving size. It’s important to note that the nutritional values listed on most food labels are based on one serving size. Make sure to look at the servings per container as well. Sometimes a product may seem to have low calories, sugar or fat, but that’s only because the serving size is smaller than what you’d typically consume.
Calories are a measure of the amount of energy contained in food. If you’re trying to maintain or lose weight, it’s essential to read the amount of calories per serving size before consuming any product. Remember, the higher the calorie content, the more energy you’ll consume. Keep in mind that some healthy products such as nuts, avocado, and olive oil are high in calories but are still recommended because of their health benefits.
Fat, cholesterol and sodium:
Fat, cholesterol, and sodium levels are essential indicators of a product’s nutritional value. High levels of saturated and trans fats can increase the risk of heart diseases, while high levels of sodium can lead to high blood pressure. It’s essential to read the labels to monitor your cholesterol and salt intake, especially if you’re already living with a chronic illness.
Carbohydrates and fiber:
Carbohydrates and fiber are essential nutrients that provide the body with energy. The key, however, is to choose foods that are high in fiber and low in simple sugars, as the latter can cause spikes in blood sugar levels. When reading the labels, opt for products that have a higher percentage of fiber and a lower percentage of sugar.
Protein and vitamins:
Protein aids in building and repairing muscles, while vitamins are crucial for numerous bodily functions. Some products such as cereals and snacks have added vitamins and minerals, making them an excellent way to get the recommended daily intake of necessary nutrients.
Lastly, it’s essential to read the list of ingredients when looking at food labels. Often, products have varying levels of added sugars, preservatives, and other chemicals that can impact your health. Choose products that have fewer ingredients, and try to steer clear of those that have added sugars, artificial colors, and flavors.
In conclusion, breaking down food labels is an essential part of making informed choices about your diet. By knowing what to look for and understanding the nutritional values, you can make better decisions about what you put into your body. Remember to keep in mind the serving size, calorie intake, fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, fiber, protein, vitamins, and ingredients. Your body will thank you in the long run.