The labels on packaged foods provide us with helpful information to make informed decisions about what we choose to ingest as consumers. On these labels, you can find nutrition facts that tell us the nutritional value of the food and the ingredient list, which lists all ingredients used to make that food. You must know what the ingredients are and what the nutritional value means for your overall health when you consume packaged foods.
It is no secret that one-ingredient foods (fruits, vegetables, etc.) are superior to packaged foods; however, sometimes, due to busy schedules, their convenience can make them better options. As such, knowing what the food label communicates will significantly benefit you.
This blog with cover the nutrition facts and ingredient list. It will also discuss some food you may want to avoid or reduce to improve the overall quality of your health.
At the top of the nutrition facts label, there will be information on the total number of servings per package and the serving size. The following information on the label is based on the serving size and, in some cases, the total number of servings per package.
The nutrient label tells you the number of key nutrients and additives in the food. You can find information about protein, carbohydrate, fiber, and fat content on this label. You can also find micronutrient content for vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, and potassium. This label also has information about sugar, sodium, cholesterol, etc.
Daily value percent is also on the nutrition facts label. The daily value percent tells the consumer how much a particular nutrient in one serving of the food contributes to a total daily caloric intake of 2000. For example, suppose you eat one serving of a product that has 6% of potassium. You have met 6% of your daily potassium needs in that case.
The daily value percent can estimate where one might be regarding the consumption of a balanced diet. This information should not cause stress or nitpicking but should serve as a tool in your toolbox for healthy living.
In the ingredient portion of a nutrition label, ingredients used to make the food are listed based on the amount: from the ingredients with the greatest quantities to the least amount. The first ingredient on the list is the ingredient that forms the base of the particular food, as it has the biggest portion.
Ingredients that you should try to avoid*
Artificial Dyes: These should be avoided as they can contain toxic, cancer-causing agents. The most commonly used food dyes with carcinogens are artificial dyes yellow 5, yellow 6, and red 40
High fructose corn syrup: This ingredient is considered to be one of the primary causes of obesity because of its ability to increase appetite.
Artificial sweeteners: Artificial sweeteners like Aspartame, Acesulfame K, Sucralose, and Saccharin, are used instead of sugar. However, these ingredients can disrupt the gut and potentially harm health.
Additives and Preservatives: Two preservatives that are widely recommended to avoid are Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) and Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA). They are more likely to be found in personal care products but can be used as preservatives in food. They are linked to endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity, and possible carcinogenic effects.
Inflammatory oils: Oils like canola oil, vegetable oil, etc., have inflammatory effects on the body due to their production processes. If not addressed, inflammation can lead to damage to healthy cells and tissues and the development of diseases.
*This information is purely for educational purposes and should not be used instead of medical advice.
The nutrition label provides valuable information that can help you make food choices more responsibly. Be an informed consumer and make better choices for your health when you partake in packaged foods.