Understanding Food Labels

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Date Submitted: 11/15/2012 07:07 PM

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Understanding Food Labels

Using the food label attached to most every item a person buys today when shopping, planning meals, and cooking each day will ensure that they are eating a healthy, balanced diet. This label makes it easy to determine the serving size, calories per serving, the amounts of nutrients we are getting, and to compare one product to another.

The 5/20 rule to remember when reading a food label is that 5% daily values (DV) or less of a nutrient in the food item is not a good source of that nutrient and 20% daily values (DV) or more of a nutrient in the food item is a good source of that nutrient. This rule also works for daily values nutrients a person may not want a lot of like saturated fat or sodium. With these items a person would want to try to stick to the servings closer to the 5% DV rather than the 20% DV.

There are actually six key food label facts located on each food product which are as follows:

1. The serving size – each label contains the serving size and the number of servings per package. The serving sizes are standardized to make it easier to compare similar foods; they are provided in similar units, such as cups or pieces, followed by the metric amount. Knowing the serving size helps in determining the calories and all the nutrient amounts listed at the top part of the label. If a person eats an entire package of a product that contains 2 servings they are consuming twice the number of calories and nutrients contained in the product.

2. The calories (calories from fat) – Calories provide a measure of how much energy you get from a serving of a particular food. The calorie section of the food label helps a person to manage their weight. The general guide to calories provides a general reference for calories when looking at a Nutrition Facts Label, which is based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

3. The nutrients: How much? – When looking at the top of the nutrients section of the food label we will see the group which we...