Most people hardly look at nutrition fact labels when grocery shopping. It could be because we do not care, or that we do not understand what we are looking at. If it’s the latter, this post will help you understand how to better understand the information on nutrition fact labels.
Nutrition facts change by item; however, in this article, we will gain a basic understanding of each category on the label.
The serving information is the first part of the nutrition facts label. It will tell you how many servings are in a particular container. For example, the container could hold four servings, but the serving size would be one cup, meaning that the container hold four cups total. Serving sizes are meant to be easily compared with other food, so they are labeled in familiar units like cups or pieces. Serving size represents how much of a particular item you should eat in a single serving, though nutritional needs vary from person to person.
The rest of the information on the label is based on the serving size. For example, nutrient and calorie information is all based on a single serving, so if the label says that the serving size is one cup and you eat two, you need to multiply the nutrients and calories by two.
As you move on down the label, you will come across calorie information next. Calories measure how much energy you will get from a single serving of a particular food. If something has 280 calories per serving and you eat two servings, you will end up consuming 560 calories.
If you are looking to maintain or achieve healthy body weight, you will want to balance the number of calories you consume with the number of calories you burn. All bodies are different, so what you may need calorically is not the same that someone of different age, sex, height, weight, and level of physical activity needs.
The next category you will come across is the most complex because it includes different nutrients that each impact your health in a different way. You can use the nutrient facts to support any dietary needs that you are trying to meet. It is up to you to decide what nutrients you need more of and what you want to avoid.
Saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars are nutrients that could potentially have negative health effects. Consuming too much of these particular nutrients is tied to cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. They also make it difficult to stay within the recommended calorie limits and gain the important nutrient needs.
There are some beneficial nutrients that most people are not getting enough of, like dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium. If you wanted to lower blood glucose and cholesterol levels and reduce your calorie intake, you want to maintain a high fiber diet. Higher vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium consumption can lower your risk of developing osteoporosis, anemia, and high blood pressure.
Percent Daily Value
The amount of nutrients in one serving of food is reflected by the percent daily value. For example, if the label were to say 20% percent daily calcium, one serving would provide 20 percent of the calcium you would need for the day. The percent daily value is based on a 2,000-calorie diet for healthy adults. Even if your diet is higher or lower in calories, you can still use the daily value as a guide.
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We hope this information on reading the nutrition fact labels is helpful to you.
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