viernes, 22 de noviembre de 2013

How to read food labels to make a smart choice

Understanding food labels can help you make wiser choices, but in today's hurried world most people take the claims on the fronts of food packages as the final word on nutrition, and this can be often misleading.

If you fail to read the small print, particularly the “Nutrition Facts panel" and the "Ingredient list," you may not be aware of the added sugars or the trans fats it contains.

For instance, the front of the package may say “no trans fats,” but in the ingredient list you might read it has hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils (= trans fats). The problem is that a product that contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fats per portion is not required to include them on the Nutrition Facts panel, so the only way to be 100% sure is to read the Ingredients List. 

You should choose products with fewer added sugars, such as sucrose, which is the technical word for the table sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, or molasses. They add extra unwanted calories. Although natural sugars in milk and fruit are fine.

If a product claims to be sugar-free or fat-free, it means that one serving provides less than 0.5g of sugar or fat respectively.

"Reduced" or "less" mean the food has 25% less of a specific nutrient than the regular version of the food.

General guide to calories (based on a 2000kcal diet):

40kcal is low (thumbs up ;) )

100kcal is moderate

400 kcal or more is high

Use the calorie information to work out how a particular food fits into your daily calorie allowance on the weight loss plan.

% Daily value:

DV are the reference values that are used to assist consumers in understanding how nutrients fit into the context of the total daily diet. It allows you to compare nutritional values of food products.

5/20 Rule. Quick Guide to % DV:

5% DV or less is Low -  Select foods that are lowest in total fat, saturated and trans fats; as well as in cholesterol and sodium to help reduce your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.

20% DV or more is High - Choose foods with the higher % DV for these nutrients: fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Always look at the serving size as it is probably smaller than you might assume. If you don't read the label, you may never realize that the juice you're buying is actually three servings, and you may think it has three times less sugars and calories that it really has... 


Most sodium comes from packaged foods.
 Similar packaged foods can vary widely in sodium content, including breads. Processed meats such as hams, sausages, frankfurters, and luncheon or deli meats have added sodium. Use the Nutrition Facts label to choose foods with a lower %DV (% Daily Value) for sodium.


The percent Daily Value (DV) for dietary fiber is based on the recommended daily amount of fiber which is 25 grams of fiber per day for a 2000 calorie diet.

This amount of fiber is necessary to maintain a healthy digestive system and to reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer.

High fiber: 5 grams or more (per RACC, which is the amount of food customarily consumed at one eating occasion)

Good source of fiber: 2.5 to 4.9 grams

Added fiber: at least 2.5 grams more per RACC (as compared to an appropriate reference food)

Tip: Ingredients are listed in descending order of predominance.


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