The Food and Drug Administration requires that all packaged food include a standardized nutrition label. Whether you are trying to lose weight, maintain a healthy diet or reach a specific nutritional goal, understanding nutrition labels can help you make informed choices about what you purchase and consume.
One of the great advantages of a micro market is the ability to pick up products, look at the nutrition label and make an informed choice on the food or beverage item you’d like to consume. Use the following guide to help you better understand a Nutrition Facts Label for the next time you visit your breakroom:
The first and most important thing to note before you proceed down the label is the serving size. All of the nutrition facts on the label will apply only to a single serving of the product. Check the serving size as well as the number of servings in the entire package to understand exactly how much of the product you will consume.
Below the serving size you will find a list of key nutrients. Each of these nutrients are listed in a measure of grams and also as a percentage of the daily recommended total.
The percentages on the label provide the amount of the nutrient that you should consume in one day, based on a diet of 2,000 calories per day.
The next section of the nutrition label lists the number of calories found in one serving. Calories are a measure of energy. This section will also tell you how many calories in the product are coming directly from fat, as opposed to calories from other nutrients.
TOTAL FAT, CHOLESTEROL AND SODIUM:
Just below the calories section will be three nutrients in bold lettering – Total Fat (saturated fat and trans fat), Cholesterol and Sodium.
Carbohydrates are listed next, with subcategories of sugar and fiber. Like calories, carbohydrates can come for different sources.
Protein is another key nutrient on the nutrition label. Protein is an essential nutrient that helps the body produce blood, muscle and tissue. Foods high in protein keep the body feeling full longer than those high in sugar.
The bottom section of the nutrition label lists a different set of nutrients – Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron. These nutrients are very important to a healthy diet. Getting enough of these key nutrients can improve health and reduce your risk of certain diseases. It is generally not a problem if you go over the daily recommended amount of these nutrients, unless you have specific diet restrictions set forth by your doctor. Aim to consume at least the minimum amount of these nutrients each day.
It is important to remember all percentages on the label are based on a diet of 2,000 calories, which is an average requirement. Everyone will have different caloric needs depending on body size and composition. Children will have different caloric needs than adults. The 2,000 calorie benchmark is meant to provide a frame of reference for comparing similar products.
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