You can make smarter food choices and identify nutrient-dense items for a healthy diet if you understand what’s in a nutrition facts label. However, not everyone knows how to interpret these essential food labels.
Information on what a product includes and suggestions for choosing healthier processed foods may be found on the packaging’s front, back, or sides. However, the abundance of figures, ratios, and even complicated-sounding substances can sometimes cause more confusion than clarity.
If you want to understand nutrition facts, label and use the information to your advantage, this post will teach you everything you need to know.
What is the Main Ingredient on a Nutrition Label?
Food manufacturers are expected to be truthful on their food labels. Therefore, the ingredient that appears first on the list has the highest quantity in the food. Hence, if sugar is listed as the first component, it is the primary ingredient, and the product contains a lot of sugar.
Almost every packaged food has a nutrition facts label on its packaging. These labels break down the number of essential nutrients in the food, such as protein, calories, vitamins, fiber, carbohydrates, and fat. The nutrition label may also mention sodium content if it’s salty and dietary fibers if it has fiber-riched vegetables or fruits.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first mandated the inclusion of nutrition facts labels on every packaged food in 1990. It has undergone various revisions throughout the decades, and the latest update was made in 2016.
What are the Different Types of Food Labels?
Label printing companies are responsible for ensuring that the food labels they print are readable and visible regardless of the packaging’s size. Aside from nutrition fact labels, several other labels in the food package provide additional information about the food, which include:
Front-of-Package (FOP) Labels: Food producers can decide to include FOP symbols or graphics that draw attention to the product’s nutritional aspects if they are beneficial to health, such as being low in calories or added sugar.
Health Claims: These are claims that have been examined by the FDA and are backed by research suggesting that particular foods or diets may reduce the chance of contracting a disease or other health issue.
Ingredients: The components mentioned on food labels are under FDA regulation. The ingredients must be listed on a packaged item in the order based on their percentage in the food.
Allergy information: This section warns that the food contains major food allergens such as soybeans, milk, fish, shellfish, wheat, eggs, tree nuts, and peanuts.
Best-by and Use-by Dates: These dates provide the last date recommended for the food to have the best quality and when it is at its peak of freshness.
Items that must be found on a food label
This figure reflects the standardized amount there is in packaged food. Therefore, customers must pay attention to it to reflect on whether they are consuming the right amount of food ingredients or whether it is in excess.
Calories measure how much energy you can get out of packaged food. Most adults consume about 2,000 calories a day. If you want to maintain a healthy body, pay attention to the daily calorie consumption and the activities you do to burn these calories, such as regularly exercising.
Percent Daily Values
The Percent Daily Value (%DV) is the ratio of each nutrient in the packaged food and the healthy daily consumption of the ingredient. This figure helps you determine if the food has a low or high amount of a particular nutrient and how much it contributes to your total daily diet.
Check Out the Nutrition Terms
If you are unfamiliar with nutrition terms, such as single-ingredient sugar labels, do some research first.
Saturated Fat, Added Sugars, and Sodium
The label includes ingredients such as saturated fat, salt, and added sugars that may harm your health, especially when taken in excess.
Vitamins, Minerals, and Dietary Fiber
This group of ingredients is healthy and can help boost your immune system and allow many of your body’s systems to function optimally.
The nutrition facts label must include potassium, and vitamin D. Iron and calcium will still be needed. Vitamins A and C are no longer necessary and can still be printed voluntarily.
The latest food nutrition labels make it easier for the customer to see the number of calories and added sugar in packaged food. Furthermore, it also made serving sizes more realistic and accurate. Therefore, if you pay close attention to the nutrition facts label, you can make an informed decision about whether to eat a particular food or not, given your current circumstances.