Sometimes it can be hard to understand the overabundance of information put on a nutrition label, but it is important to understand what you are eating because that is one of the vital steps to eating healthy. To help get you prepared for understanding all the gobbledygook on a nutrition label we have put together a guide to all of the sections of a label to get you proficient in knowing exactly what you’re eating.
Guide on How to Navigate a Nutrition Label
Knowing a serving size is important to making sure that you don’t over eat on accident, so take a look before you serve up a portion of the food. The serving size is important because it tells you how much you can eat and informs you about how much of the other nutritional information is in that serving of food.
Percentage of Daily Value
The percentage of daily value is always set on an average caloric intake of 2,000 calories a day (this is right for a fairly sedate man, but for an active man or teen the norm is about 2,500 calories.) All of the information on the label is based upon this formula, so keep this in mind.
The nutrition label will divide up the fat section into four parts: saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and trans fats. It is important to know what fats are in the food you are eating and especially how much of the saturated and trans fats are in the food as they are bad for your health in large amounts. Also, fat-free or low-fat foods doesn’t mean healthy, often these types of food have more sugar added to make up for the less “fat” in the food.
This type of ingredient is only found in animal products as it is a mainstay of mammal biology. The advised daily intake of cholesterol is about 300 milligrams or less for an adults as too much can raise your own cholesterol and put your at risk for heart disease.
It is recommended that adults only have about 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day as more than that can raise your blood pressure.
For adult it is advised that you get about 4,300 milligrams of potassium a day as it can help lower blood pressure and help the body function better. If you don’t get enough of it, it can lead to an irregular heartbeat, leaving you at risk for serious medical issues.
This section is divided up into many sections based upon which types of carbohydrates are included in the food. Because of varying different ingredients and carbohydrates it is most important to pay attention to the sugar and fiber content and take it into consideration with your percentage of daily value.
The recommendation for daily intake is between 21-35 grams a day, though most do not reach this. Try to find foods that are high in fiber with 3 grams or more a serving. The nutrition label might include whether or not the fiber is soluble or insoluble; soluble fiber are good for lowering cholesterol while insoluble fiber is good for your digestive tract and for bowel disorders.
It is recommended that you get .45 grams of protein for every pound that you weight (for a two hundred pound man that is 90 grams a day).
Vitamins and Minerals
This is a listing of what vitamins and minerals are included in the food and the amount based upon a 2,000 caloric intake a day. It is important to pay attention to iron, calcium, vitamin C and vitamin E.