Food packaging contains a lot of nutritional information. But do you know how to interpret what is on the labels of the foods you buy?
Labels tell you about the quantity of the product inside. They also tell you about the composition and quality of the product\’s ingredients, including information on calories, protein, fat, fiber, carbohydrates, sodium content, vitamins, minerals, and more. This enables you to compare foods, helping you decide which foods are beneficial to your health and which are not.
Here\’s an example of a product label (a can of vegetable soup):
Serving Size 1/2 can (205 g)
Servings Per Container 2
|Amount Per Serving|
|Calories 130 Calories from Fat 30|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 3.5 g 5%
Saturated Fat 0.5 g 3%
Trans Fat 0 g
|Cholesterol 0 mg 0%|
|Sodium 240 mg 12%|
|Total Carbohydrate 19 g 6 %
Dietary Fiber 5 g 20%
Sugars 4 g
Protein 6 g
|Vitamin A 30% * Vitamin C 15%
Calcium 4% * Iron 15%
|* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.|
At the top of any food label, you\’ll always find the total calories that the food contains per serving, as well as the total calories in the package overall. With respect to the above product, if you eat the entire product in the package you will be taking in a total of 260 calories (130 calories per serving x 2 servings). Bear in mind that an hour of dancing burns off approximately 370 calories, an hour of jogging burns off approximately 675 calories, an hour of brisk walking burns off approximately 300 calories, while an hour of sleeping burns off approximately 45 calories.
Always look for foods with relatively low percent daily values of sodium and trans fat, relatively high percent daily values of fiber, and relatively high percent daily values of protein.
Some food labels, especially those for sports and nutritional supplements, will also tell you how much of certain key nutrients you should consume each day. This will give you a good idea of whether you\’re taking in enough of a certain nutrient or not.
If you\’d like more specific information on carbohydrates, proteins, fats, or vitamins and minerals, feel free to look up our other Blog articles on nutrition.
Take care of yourself, and remember that you are what you eat!