Everyone knows to check any processed food’s Nutrtion Labels for facts about the product. But, does everyone know what those numbers and facts actually mean? All the figures can be confusing to the casual reader. Here’s a few simple tips on how to read the nutritional facts and make these numbers work for you and your diet.
1. The first thing you should check out is the Serving Size and Servings per Container. This tells you how to calculate the total amount of fat, calories, sodium, etc. that there actually is. For some people, they just look at the amount of calories on the label and think that if they eat the whole pack then this number is all the calories they would be consuming. This is a common mistake. The values on the Nutritional Label are the amount of a certain component per serving. A bag of chips may contain as much as 3 to 4 servings. This means you should multiply all values by 3 or 4, depending on how many servings per container there are.
2. The Percent Daily Value is usually calculated for a 2,000 calorie diet. This means that for an average person who takes in around 2,000 calories a day, this is the percent of fat, sodium, etc of the total recommended amount that they would be ingesting. For an active person or a growing adolescent (who may have a 2,500 calorie intake) these values are different.
3. Fat, Sodium, Cholesterol, Sugar are important components you should be paying attention to. For those who are on a strict sugar-free, low sodium, low cholesterol or fat-free diet, should look at these values closely. Total fat is distributed among trans fat, saturated and unsaturated fats. Trans and saturated fat should be relatively low values.
Now that you know these three essential facts, you can get more out of Nutritional Labels. Just remember not to be too obsessed with the numbers and try to balance out your diet for a healthier lifestyle.