Calorie content is crucial in evaluating a food product. Therefore, it is necessary that as a consumer you properly understand the food label and retrieve calorie information from it. You need to know what to aim for in case you’re going to choose a food product. You also need answers of questions like “A serve size contains how many calories?” etc. When you get the answers of these questions then it becomes easier for you to select the better, healthier food among many. For example, nutritional information for 100g serve of a product is one thing but selling that same product in 200g per pack is another thing. However, in this case, the manufacturer is mentioning the nutritional value for 100g in the label of the pack of 200g. They want to show a product seem healthier to consumer. But in reality you are consuming more calories here than required, but unknowingly.
But before going into detail of calorie content in a food label, let’s check out some essential terms regarding food label.
The Portion/Serve Size
Typically, the portion size or serving size indicates the suitable amount of food for a healthy adult over age of 18. In case of younger children or teenagers, the amounts are different. The amount you eat of a food product influences the nutrient and calorie intake. Therefore, you need to think about portion size whenever you’re purchasing food. You don’t always need the amount the manufacturer recommends. You may need less amount of that food. The definition of a portion by manufacturer can be different from your requirement.
Fat, Carbohydrates, Protein, Sodium and Fiber
- Fat: Both saturated and trans-fats are listed here. Information on cholesterol is also present. You will look for food products that have less than 10g of fat per 100g. Information on other types of fats for example, healthy omega 3s, can also be present in some products.
- Carbohydrates: You’ll also find information on carbohydrates and sugar on the food label. You will look for food products that have less than 10g of fat per 100g. But if the food is fruit, then look for 20g or less.
- Protein: Total amount of protein content in the product is mentioned here.
- Fiber: Fiber content of a food product is mentioned in the food label of fiber foods. In products like breakfast, breads, and cereals that are carbohydrate based products, you need to look for more than 3g of fiber per portion.
- Sodium: You’ll find high quantity of sodium in lots of processed foods. In those cases, you’ve to try to find food products with less than 120mg of sodium per 100g.
Vitamins and Minerals
There is some information that are mandatory to be present on food labels. This information include iron, calcium, vitamin A and C. Moreover, if a food product is particularly very rich on a specific vitamin or mineral such as folic acid, niacin, or other B vitamins then it is also mentioned.
Food labels can also show a percentage value which is based on daily requirements for a nutrient present in that food product. Therefore, you can work out if that product is high or low in that certain nutrient.
A food product must satisfy the guidelines set by the FDA (Federal Drug Administration). This is necessary to claim that a food is ‘low fat’ or high fiber’ or ‘sugar free’.
A list of ingredients is always present in food label. The list starts with the ingredient mostly abundant. The list then ends with ingredient, which is the smallest in quantity.
Reading the Label
You can select food products properly if you can read the label like an expert:
- For average adult person, there is Reference Intake (RI) percentages that are given per portion. You need to check how much of that, food pack counts as a portion. This will help you avoid consuming extra calories, sugar, and fat than required.
- Usually, you should go for green, sometimes amber, and red as a treat when you are going to select a food product with traffic light labels.
- Remember that blood glucose levels are raised by carbohydrates intake. But front side food labels don’t include the amount of carbohydrate. In those cases, you need to check back label for the total carbohydrate. Back label mentions carbohydrates from starchy food to sugars.
- The information that is mentioned on traffic lights regarding sugar, does not differentiate between natural sugar sources (or fructose) and artificial/added sugar sources (sucrose or glucose). If the ingredients list contains syrup, cane sugar, molasses or terms ending in ‘ose’ within the top position, then this suggests that the food contains more added sugar. In this case you should choose an alternative food if can find. You also need to be careful about the portion you eat.
- When choosing between two fiber products chose the one that has more fiber. You’ll find information on the fiber content on back label of food pack. We should consume more fiber as part of the daily diet.
- You’ve to compare between the portion sizes defined by the manufacturer and decided by yourself. The portion sizes may differ in this case. You can reduce your portions to lose weight or keep a healthy weight.
Calories And Fat-derived Calories
There is a list of information on calories in food label. This list shows calorie content of a portion or serve of that food product. It also shows how much of that calorie comes from fat and how much of that calorie comes from sugar ingredients. In this way, we can actually say if a food product is high or low in fat or sugar. It is important to note that not all fats are bad. There are unsaturated fats that might be present in the food product. This type of fat is beneficial for body. If you want to determine the type of fat in food product, then you’ve to check nutrient values further down on food label. If you see that an item has low amount of calories derived from fat, but looks to have high number of calories, then you’ve to check sugar content.
Last update: March 02, 2017 08:16:54 pm