Are you reading nutrition labels? They can be confusing and generally don’t tell you everything about the food you’re about to put into your body.
Here’s a quick guide to help you to make good choices:
Serving size –
The serving size is not what’s in the packet. Take a close look and you’ll see that serving size is s usually only a small amount of what’s in a packet of food … if you eat more than the serving size, be aware that the calories add up.
Total calories –
Fats have nine calories per gram; a gram of carbohydrate or protein has only four calories.
Let’s do the math, if a label says “Total Fat 10 g” , it means 90 calories from the overall calories comes from fat (9 calories per gram X 10 grams).
It’s best to keep calories from fat less than 25% of total calories.
Total Fat – Check for the fat type!
Unsaturated fat is good fat, like in nuts and avocado.
Saturated fats mainly come from animals. It’s in cheese, bacon, or ice cream and should be consumed in moderation.
Trans-fats are to be avoided! It’s processed oil, and you’ll find it in foods with a long shelf life, like popcorn, margarine, or frozen pizza.
Cholesterol –
Unlike other fats, it’s only found in animal products and can’t be exercised off or burned for energy. It tends to clog the arteries and should be kept low.
Sodium –
The body needs small amounts of sodium, but most packaged and prepared food has way too much! For example, instant soups tend to be high on salt, usually above 5000 mg for a 100 g packet. If you have about half of a pack at a time, you’ll consume half of your daily sodium intake right away. Your daily sodium intake should be less than 2,300 mg.
Carbohydrates –
The amount of carbohydrates is a combination of complex ones, like vegetables, and simple ones, like cookies. To find out the number of complex carbs, subtract the number listed under “sugar” from the total carbs.
Dietary Fiber –
Fiber is a good carb and crucial for good digestion. If the fiber content is low, it means it’s refined. In that case, you should avoid it.
Sugars –
Most packaged foods are high in sugars. The recommended amount is no more than 30g a day (that’s about seven sugar cubes). The sugar intake quickly accumulates throughout the day, especially with juices or sodas.
Protein –
Nutrition labels don’t specify a daily percentage. Eat moderate portions of lean meat, poultry, beans, seeds, and yogurts.