Know Your Nutrition Facts, Know Your Food
Payal D Patel, PharmD, Resident/
Feb 26th, 2015
These days, more and more people make informed decisions about their lifestyles and have set goals to make healthier choices. Food label reading is an informative and free way to help make healthy choices while shopping at the grocery store! To support you with your continued commitment to healthy living, here’s a quick checklist to help understand a nutrition facts label.
- Serving Size: This will help determine if you need to adjust any of the other values on the nutrition label. For example, most ice creams have a serving size of ½ cup. If you eat 1 cup of ice cream for dessert, you will have to double all of the values on the label.
- Calories: This will tell you the number of calories per serving. In addition to the total calories per servings, your nutrition label will also tell you the number of calories that come from fat sources. In general choose foods with fewer calories from fat.
- Nutrients: According to the US Food and Drug Administration
- Fat, Cholesterol, Sodium, Carbohydrates: These nutrients are necessary for basic functions, however people tend to consume too much of them. Having too much of these nutrients in your diet may increase your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes amongst other conditions. In general, if the daily value is less than 5% for any of these nutrients, it is considered low.
- Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamins, and Minerals: These are the nutrients that can help build strong bones and muscles as well as keep your metabolism active. When looking at the nutritional label, try to find foods that are higher in these nutrients. In general, if any of these nutrients are more than 20% of your daily values, they are considered high.
In addition to checking the nutrition label when making food choices, there are other ways to ensure that you and your family can continue to be healthy. Try to balance the food you eat with physical activity to help manage weight.
Incorporating fresh foods and vegetables into meals will provide you with important vitamins and minerals. Another benefit of eating more fresh fruits and vegetables is that these foods are typically low in cholesterol and sodium.
Also, the American Heart Association (AHA) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have published many resources to help you make smarter food choices. Visit the links below to learn more! By using your new skill of nutrition label reading, you can continue your commitment to healthy eating.
Payal D Patel, PharmD, Resident