I can’t remember the last time I looked at the nutrition facts of my groceries while I was at the store. I usually just grab my favorite brand and move along down the aisle; however, understanding how to read the nutrition facts label could be beneficial when trying to be more conscious of what you are consuming.
All nutritional information changes with each item, but in this article, we will look over the general information behind each category on the label.
The label will contain the serving information at the top. It will show how many servings are in the particular product. There could be four servings in the container with a serving size of one cup. This means that there are four cups total in the container. Serving sizes are meant to be easy to compare to other foods. That is why they are in familiar units, such as cups or pieces. The serving size represents the recommended amount of a certain product that you should consume in a single sitting.
The serving size works as the foundation for the rest of the label information. For example, nutrient and calorie information is all based on one serving. If the label says that the serving size is one cup and you eat two, you have to multiply the nutrients and calories by two.
Moving down the label, you will see the calorie information. Calories measure how much energy you are going to get from a single serving of a particular food. For example, if something is 280 calories per serving and you eat two servings, you will end up consuming 560 calories.
If you are looking to achieve or maintain a healthy body weight, you should be balancing the number of calories you consume with the number of calories you burn. All bodies are different so what you may need for calories is not necessarily the same for someone of different age, sex, height, weight, and level of physical activity.
The next category on the label is the most complex since it shows different nutrients that can impact your health. You can use the nutrient facts to support your dietary needs depending on what you are trying to do. It is up to you to decide what nutrients you need more of and which ones you want to avoid.
Saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars are nutrients that could lead to negative health effects. Consuming too much of these nutrients has been tied to cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. They may also make it hard to stay within the recommended number of calories while also getting the essential nutrients your body needs.
There are some nutrients that a majority of people do not get enough of, and it is recommended that they eat more nutrient-dense foods. Some of these nutrients include dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium. A high fiber diet can lower your blood glucose and cholesterol levels and reduce your calorie intake. To lower your risk of developing osteoporosis, anemia, and high blood pressure, you should consume more vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium.
Percent Daily Value
The percent daily value shares how many nutrients are going to be in one serving of food. For example, if the label were to say that there was 20 percent daily calcium, one serving would provide 20 percent of the calcium that you need for the day. The percent daily value is based on a 2,000-calorie diet for healthy adults. You can still use the daily value as a guide whether your diet is lower or higher in calories.
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