Decoding The Nutritional Facts Food Labels

nutritional facts on food labels

Have you ever walked through a grocery store and noticed a shopper staring down at the nutritional facts of two products and comparing the two? Some things are easy for us to see immediately: serving size, the calories, and the total fat, but what does this all mean?

Serving Size

One thing that people often fail to take into account when they look at and compare two different products is the serving size. The serving size is listed right at the very top of the label. This is perhaps the most important thing to take into account as all of the rest of the nutritional information is based solely upon how large the serving size is. You may also see information regarding the “servings per container”. It’s important to remember that the serving size is what the nutritional information is based on, and not the servings per container.

The Calories, Fat, Carbs and Proteins

In the section under the amount of calories per serving, you will also find the fat content, the different types of carbohydrates and their amounts, as well as the amount of protein that is in this product. Listed beside each are the grams (g) or milligrams (mg) of each product, as well as a percentage amount which indicates how much of this serving is part of your recommended daily caloric intake. For example, if the food you are eating is 5% protein, this means that you are obtaining 5% of your daily protein intake from this particular serving. You will need to have 95% more protein in your diet on that given day to meet the daily requirements.

So what is the daily requirement? This information is based on a diet of 2000 calories, though this may differ from country to country. If you are currently not consuming 2000 calories a day, then the percentages that are provided will not be “true” to your current diet.

Vitamins and Minerals

decoding nutitional facts

Some of the vitamins and minerals that are within the product are also listed on the nutritional label. In most countries, it is required that that Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium and iron content are included on the nutritional label, though some other nutrients may be included if a significant amount of a nutrient is in the product (such as folic acid and niacin). The amount of each of these nutrients and minerals is displayed in percentages which are again based on a 2000 calorie diet. This means that the percentage amounts are not true to you if your caloric intake is higher or lower than 2000 a day.

The Suggested Daily Requirements

At the bottom of the label, you will find the suggested daily requirements. Often there will be two different daily caloric intake diets presented: a 2000 calorie a day diet, and a 2500 calorie a day diet. This general information is a good reminder of how much fat, cholesterol, sodium and carbohydrates your body needs on a daily basis and will help you plan your diet and nutritional needs.

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