Nutrition Facts Panels: The Universal Language of Nutrition

  • Nutrition Facts Panels: The Universal Language of Nutrition

    You have the right to know what is in the foods you eat. In 1990, the FDA enacted the The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA). This piece of legislation helped regulate nutrition information, nutrition content claims, and health claims. Many consumers do not take advantage of this wealth of information. Using the nutrition facts panel can help you live healthier and improve your nutritional well-being. Many people don’t understand a nutrition facts panel. Here are some simple steps to use it more effectively and easily. It might sound or look daunting but don’t fret! Once you get it down, you’ll be a Food Label Pro! Here is a guide to the Nutrition Facts Panel in 6 easy steps.

    Nutritional Facts

    1.) Serving Size: An individual serving has been established by the FDA to make it easier to compare similar foods. The size of the serving and number of servings plays a big role on the calories and nutrients in the product. Always ask yourself “How many servings am I consuming?”

    2.) Calories (and Calories from fat): Most people need around 2,000 calories per day. Think of calories as your daily budget. Every time you eat or drink, you are shrinking your budget. Fat, carbs, and protein are made up of calories.Fat + Carbs + Protein = Total Calories. They provide energy for your body. Many Americans consumer more calories than they need but do not meet their nutrient recommendations. A general rule to calories is as followed:

    • 40 Calories is low
    • 100 Calories is moderate
    • 400 Calories or more is high

    3.) Nutrients to Limit: Eating too much Fat, Saturated Fat, Trans Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium can be harmful to your health and increase your risk for certain diseases. While every diet needs these nutrients, too much can be bad for your health. A general* rule to follow is:

    • 65 grams of fat per day (30% of total calories from fat)
    • Less than 20 grams saturated fat
    • Less than 5 grams trans fat
    • Less than 300mg cholesterol per day
    • 2,400mg sodium per day (1tsp of salt = 2,300mg of sodium!)

    4.) Get Enough of These Nutrients: Most Americans do not eat enough dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. These nutrients can help improve your health and wellness. They may also reduce your risk for diseases like osteoporosis and heart disease. Some general tips are:

    • 20-30 grams of fiber per day (sources: oats, lentils, beans, fresh fruits, and vegetables)
    • vitamin A (sources: sweet potato, carrot, spinach, kale)
    • vitamin C (sources: citrus fruit, bell pepper, strawberry, kiwi, pineapple)
    • calcium (sources: organic cow’s milk, yogurt, tofu, spinach, almonds)
    • iron (sources: beef, turkey, chicken, salmon, tuna, beans)

    5.) Percent Daily Value (%DV): Based on the Daily Value recommendations for key nutrients but only for a 2,000 calorie daily diet. This should be used as a reference frame to determine if a food is a good or bad source of a nutrient. This way you can tell high from low and know which nutrients contribute a lot, or a little, to your daily recommended allowance (upper or lower). A general rule:

    • 5% or less is low (remember the nutrients to limit)
    • 20% or more is high (remember the nutrients to get enough of)

    6.) Nutritional Footnotes: The * used after the heading “%Daily Value” on the Nutrition Facts label refers to the Footnote in the lower part of the nutrition label. This footnote is based upon the “%DVs on a 2,000 calorie diet”. This statement must be on all food labels. The comparison between the 2,000 and 2,500 calorie diet information may not be on all packages if the label is too small. When the full footnote does appear, it will always be the same. It doesn’t change from product to product, because it shows recommended dietary advice for all Americans–it is not about a specific food product.

    Look at the amounts circled in red in the footnote–these are the Daily Values (DV) for each nutrient listed and are based on public health experts’ advice. DVs are recommended levels of intakes. DVs in the footnote are based on a 2,000 or 2,500 calorie diet.

    Our mission at Food Label Pro is to create the language of nutrition your customers trust. We create Nutrition Facts Panels and conduct Nutrition Analysis that helps educate consumers. To learn more or request a free proposal, either request a quote or call us at 312.620.0116.

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