Understanding a food’s nutritional composition is the key to weight loss. In an effort to promote a healthy lifestyle, manufacturers are required by law to list the food’s nutritional value on the packaging. The food label compares the product’s nutritional value to the recommended daily values based on a 2000-calorie diet. Each label must list the amount of calories, serving sizes, vitamins, fat content, carbohydrates, cholesterol, sodium, sugar and protein. Eating a balanced diet plays a major role in losing weight as well as maintaining a healthy weight.
Serving size is directly related to calorie intake. Unless the package is a single serve package, it contains at least two servings. The number of calories on the food label indicates the number of calories per serving. For example, if a package has three servings and 100 calories per serving, the total package contains 300 calories. The number of fat calories lists the amount that present in each serving.
Under the amount of fat calories, the total number of fat grams is listed. One fat calorie is approximately 10 grams. The fat content is further broken down into saturated fat and Trans fat. Trans fat is a naturally occurring fat but too much of it can raise a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease. Saturated fat is a type of fat that comes mainly from animal products. In addition to raising the risk for cardiovascular disease, this type of fat increases the risk or type 2 diabetes.
The carbohydrate section lists the total amount of simple and complex carbohydrates. Foods with high simple carbohydrate content will have a high amount of sugar grams. Carbohydrates are responsible for supplying the body with fuel, but consuming to much simple sugar may cause the blood sugar level to become unstable. Treats such pastries and fried sweets are examples of simple sugar foods. Since they take longer to break down, complex carbohydrates fuel the body longer. You want to seek out foods with complex carbs.
Next we have info about the amount of protein per serving. Without an accurate amount of protein, the body will not be able to grow or repair it’s self. Healthy amounts of protein can come from lean meat, leafy greens, faux meats, beans and nuts.
Food labels also list the amount of fiber per serving. Fiber is important to the digestive track. The fiber is not digested however as it passes through the body, it helps to get rid of food that the body cannot digest or absorb. Insoluble fiber helps to balance the acidity levels in the digestion track. Its main function is to produce bowel movement on a regular basis. This type of fiber is found in fruit skins, dark green leafy vegetable, nuts, root vegetables and bran.
Let’s talk sodium per serving. Sodium can be thought of as the amount of salt in the food per serving. It is meant to be eaten in small quantities, so it is measured in milligrams. Directly across from the sodium content is a percentage. This percentage compares the food’s sodium content to the daily-recommended value. For example, if the sodium percentage is 15 then 15% of the day’s calories intake comes from one serving of that particular type of food. Every section has a percentage that works this way.
Towards the bottom of the label is the food’s vitamin content. This list tells the reader which vitamins and minerals are in the package as well as the content compared to the daily-recommended values.
I hope this basic overview will help you to be more aware of the nutritional value of your food.