Thursday, January 27, 2011

Show me the Nutrition Facts

Do you know how to read your nutrition facts? What do you look for?
I always considered myself to be an observant person who is enlightened on all things nutrition. I was therefore taken aback when I realized that I had absolutely no clue what to look for on food labels when I was grocery shopping. The most I used to look for was the percentage juice in "juices" and the amount of Vitamin C.

In my quest for knowledge is I eventually learnt how to read food labels so now I'll share it with you.

Nutrition facts are normally placed at the back of product packaging in a panel. It usually lists the amount of macro and micro nutrients present in the product.

The amount of these nutrients are then listed in two columns, the amount that a person following a set caloric diet for the day should consume (most times a 2000 cal/day diet) and the amount in the actual package.

For example the above picture tell us firstly that the serving size of the product is 1 cup. However this package contains 2 servings meaning that it holds 2 cups. Now the one cup that was listed is usually based on the accepted serving size of that product. It is a standard and therefore is accepted worldwide.

 Next is the amount of calories contained in the package. You should note that the label says amount of calories per serving (remember that the package already states that you have two servings in the package), this means that by eating the entire package you are consuming two times the amount of the calories stated on the panel.This follows through for the rest of the listing. Double everything to get the amount you would consume by eating the entire package.

The percentage is listed to the right of everything, this is basically stating that this is a percentage of your required daily intake. If this package contains 40% of your daily fat intake for the day when you consume the entire package, you see how easy it is to consume too much fat per day. Remember this is a 2 cup package.

Look at the sodium content contained in this package. It contains more than a quarter of the amount of sodium required for the day. It should be noted that this product does not have to be salty, the additives put in it could drive up the sodium content, and so it is important especially if you are diabetic or hypertensive to pay special attention to your labels.

The final part of the Nutritional facts shows the micro nutrients and the % present per day. Usually those that are listed are Vitamin C, Iron, Vitamin A and Calcium.

This label,for example, informs us that this product contains 30% of your  required calcium per day in one serving, however the overall package contains two servings. 

I'm really hope that you can now confidently attempt to shop comparatively based on the nutrient content found in the options you find on the shelves of your local grocery stores and supermarkets. 

If you have any questions or comments feel free to do so in the comment section below. It's now your turn. 


Akil said...

Thanks Tanya . That was educational .

Tanya said...

Thank you Akil.

lorna vanderhaeghe said...

The first things that we should know about the food we eat are the nutrition facts. Thanks a lot for that information.

Tanya said...

Thank you Lorna, I hope that it helped you alot.

Anonymous said...

Good post. For years I've been an intent label reader, much to the amusement of my Dad. Not that he doesn't pay attention but 50%-60% of my supermarket time can be spent reading and comparing labels. Thanks for pointing out the "servings" and "sodium" issue because I think that's something we often overlook. For some reason now when I go grocery shopping and purchase I'm pleased to see Jamaican products like ackee and calalloo with the nutritional facts on it :)

I also read the ingredients very closely, and pay attention to the first 5 since ingredients are listed in the order of most to least.

Corve said...

Great post...I am not an expert at reading..I only look at the sodium, fat and sugar levels and then the serving size.

I always think they are lying anyway.

Tanya said...

Thank you Cucumberjuice.I'm pleased as well,even Tiggaz, something as simple as that now has nutrition facts.Thank you for that tip,I always noticed that they were listed greatest to least but had you not said it I wouldn't have realized.

Tanya said...

Thank you Corve, I think once you know exactly what you are looking for you will be ok.
I think that even though our measures in Jamaica may be more lenient than other countries,there is some amount of accountability for not putting the right information on labels.

@Kliejay said...

thnx for this... I really had no idea how to read most of that stuff and I'm ashamed I never bothered to learn. Will definitely pay more attention now.

Tanya said...

Thank you Kliejay. However this is nothing to be ashamed of, as long as you take the steps to correct it. And you have started the process by reading this blog.

Radhika Ganesh said...

Nutrition and health..
Nutrition and Hydration week 2014

Healthy Grocery said...

Can link to my blog for nutritional facts of healthy, low fat food at different grocery stores.