During the next few days we’ll talk about the Nutrition Label. Learning how to read food labels is very important because when you eat an apple, a piece of fish, or a cereal that has only one ingredient, you pretty much know what you are eating (although nowadays this is also debatable).
But how about when you buy processed foods that come in a box or a can? Do you know what you are gulping down? Because ignoring what is in that package can be hazard to your health, let’s dissect one food label so you can protect yourself from greedy food manufacturers that are only interested in making money at our expense.
1. Serving size
The first place to start when you look at the Nutrition Facts label is the serving size because all the information you find on the food label is based on the size of the serving.
In this nutrition label, the serving size is 1/2 a cup. You need to keep in mind this fact because eating more or less servings influences the number of calories and the rest of nutrients you eat from this package.
Serving sizes are provided in familiar units, such as cups or pieces, followed by the metric amount, such as the number of grams.
Every container is different so remember that a small container does not always mean one serving.
2. Servings per Container
This shows the number of servings in the container. The serving size on this label is 1/2 cup and the total servings per container 4. Be aware that if you eat more than 1/2 a cup, the calories and other nutrients will also go up.
In the sample label, one serving of the product contains 90 calories. If you eat 1 cup, 2 servings, you would end up eating 180 calories. Eating the 2 servings also doubles the rest of the nutrients in the product.
4. Calories from fat
This number indicates the total amount of calories coming from fat in one serving. In the example label there are 90 calories in one serving and 30 calories come from fat.
Knowing how many calories come from fat is important because health authorities recommend a limit of 65 grams of fat on a 2,000 calorie diet per day. One gram of fat contains 9 calories so, 65 grams multiplied by 9 equals 585 calories.
Thus, the maximum amount of calories from fat per day you should eat if you are on a 2,000 calorie diet is 585. Since in this case you are only having 30 calories from fat -provided you only eat one serving- you still have 555 calories from fat you can eat during the day.
When buying foods in a container, you can follow this general guide regarding total calories:
· 40 Calories is low
· 100 Calories is moderate
· 400 Calories or more is high
Today I am leaving you with a task: Go to the store and check the label of your favorite packaged item that you buy most often. Look carefully at the Nutrition Facts part of the food label and see if in the past, when you bought this item, you were aware of the serving size and the number of servings.
Tomorrow will see how to interpret the fats on the nutrition label. In the meantime, have a great day.
Emilia Klapp, RD,BS
Your Diabetes Coach