Making Sense of Food Labels

Reading food labels can be very confusing and are not easy to understand. Often, we simply do not have the time to spend trying to work out what they mean and how to use them when we are rushing through the supermarket.

Learning how to read food labels will make shopping for healthy food a whole lot easier and quicker and can help you lose weight if that’s your goal. Knowing what nutrition information to look for, can help you make the best choice for your health and avoid unnecessary saturated fat, added salt and sugars.

How to Read Food Labels

  1. The Serving Size – This will tell you the size of a single serving and the total number of servings per pack. Be careful as often people assume that a lot of products are single serving but are actually for a few people.
  2. Calories – Pay attention to the calories per serving and how many servings you are really consuming if you eat the whole package. If you double the servings you eat, you simply double your calories and nutrients intake.
  3. Limit – When it comes to foods with high amounts of sodium and saturated fat try to limit your intake and with trans fats avoid them all together as this is the worst kind of fat your body can ingest.
  4. Have Daily – Foods which contain nutrients such as dietary fibre, protein, iron and vitamins are good as you need a good amount if these healthy nutrients every day.
  5. Percentage % Daily Value – This basically tells you the percentage of each nutrient in a single serving in relation to the daily recommended amount. So, if you want to limit your saturated fat or sodium intake its best to choose foods with a lower % DV ideally 5 per cent or less. If you want to consume foods with more iron for example look for foods with higher percentage DV of about 20 per cent or more.

Tips to remember when shopping!
Percent daily values is usually based on 2,000 calories a day. You may need to consume less or more than 2,000 calories depending upon your age, gender, activity level, and whether you’re trying to lose, gain or maintain your weight.

Watch out for when the nutrition facts label says food contains “0 g” of trans-fat but includes “partially hydrogenated oil” in the ingredient list, it means the food contains trans-fat, but less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. Which means if you eat more than one serving, you will more than likely reach your daily limit of trans fat.

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