We have all become chronic food nutrition label readers. The chart found on most foods on grocery store shelves contains valuable information, but do you really understand what the values mean? Most grocery shoppers will say that sticking to the outer isles of the store is the healthiest alternative, however nutritious foods such as canned tuna, dry beans and whole grain cereals can be found on the inner isles.
To understand the nutrition of your food, first look at the nutrition facts table. You will find calorie and nutrition information on this table. If you learn how to read these charts properly, they can provide quick, yet helpful information to your shopping routine.
1. Always check the serving size listed at the top of the table because the information on the table is based on this serving size. For example, if the serving size is a ½ cup, you will relate all the information below to that figure. If you eat 1 cup of that food, double the values you see below and etcetera. Remember that serving sizes are different from brand to brand. Measure out your portion in relation to the serving size; you may be surprised that the size looks a lot different on your plate!
2. Next check the percent daily value (%DV) which outlines the nutrition each product contains. Remember that the percent daily value is based upon the serving size listed. If a product contains 5% or less percent daily value, it does not contain a lot of that nutrient. However 15% or more in a percent daily value indicates a lot. Caution around products with a high percent daily value of fat, sodium and sugar and look for ones with 5% or less. Products that have a high percent daily value of fibre, vitamins and minerals are good ones to choose.
Food nutrition labels were put into place to help consumers shop for healthy foods. It has also become a great marketing strategy for successful food companies that take pride in a healthy label which will draw more people in to buy that product. Some grocery store chains now offer dietitians that walk around grocery stores to help shoppers make healthy choices. Take advantage of a qualified dietitian who can demystify food nutrition labels and keep you and your family on a healthy eating path.
By Sarah Bamber