Decoding What’s In Your Diet

February 24, 2017

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Photo Courtesy: Forks over Knives

How to Best Understand Nutrition Fact Labels and Build a Healthy Diet

If you want to start eating healthier, or just know what you’re eating, understanding the nutrition facts
label can be very helpful. The nutrition facts label contains information on the serving size of products, nutrient information, as well as calories. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics put out an article, The Basics of the Nutrition Facts Label, in which they discuss a guide to decoding nutrition fact labels to help readers make better informed decision on food choices and build healthier diets.
 
This guide includes tips such as:     
 
  • Start with Serving Size: This will tell you the recommended portion of food to be eaten. If this is not how much you would eat, then compare it to your portioning to get your serving size.
  • Check Total Calories: See the amount of calories per serving. When trying to manage weight it’s best to lower your total caloric intake throughout the day, so this is a very crucial number.
  • Use Daily Value Percentages: % Daily Value can help you determine how a particular food product affects your daily consumption. Daily Values tell you what percent of each nutrient on the label you are getting from the product.
    • Aim for low (<5%) amount of saturated fats, cholesterol, sodium, and trans fats
    • Aim for high (>20%) amounts of vitamins, minerals, and fiber
  • Read the Ingredients List: The ingredients list can be helpful for people with restrictive diets, allergies, or when comparing brands. The ingredients are listed in amount used, those used in the largest amount listed first down to those used in the least amount listed last.

For more information on nutrition facts and food labels visit eatright.gov, or stop by fda.gov where they also have many resources to help you build your knowledge.

 

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