Ever want to know what exactly those "Nutrition Facts" on the back of foods mean? I'll try to give you a no nonsense explanation. This picture is a sample food label from the FDA website.
1. It is important to recognize the serving size. This number can be (legally) adjusted by the manufacturer to "trick" consumers. A single bag of M&M's may actually represent more than one serving... although I don't know many people who eat half a bag of M&M's! For example, the serving size may be decreased in order to list products as "Trans Fat Free" which actually means less than 0.5 grams of Trans Fat per serving.
2. Calories represent the energy content of food. They are the key to weight gain and weight loss. Put simply, if you eat more calories than you burn, then you will gain weight. The amount of calories from fats that you eat should be less than 20% of your total calorie intake. This is a difficult goal to reach. For example, if your total recommended calories per day is 2000 kcal, only 400 kcals should be from fats.
3. Trans fats are bad! Saturated fats, cholesterol, and sodium should be limited. You can use the Footnotes to determine approximate recommended maximum amounts of these items.
4. Vitamins and minerals are generally good. In fact, most of these are necessary for survival! But remember, more of a good thing is not necessarily a good thing. Too much of many vitamins and minerals can be unhealthy.
5. The footnotes provide basic estimates of maximum recommended amounts of several food components. These numbers are based on a standard 2000 kcal/day diet and a 2500 kcal/day diet in this example. Your daily amounts may be different if your recommended daily calories are more or less.
6. These percentages are based on the standard 2000 kcal diet. They provide a quick estimate of daily recommended values of these food components. These numbers may be higher or lower depending on your daily calorie needs. 5% or less is considered "Low." 20% or more is considered "High."
Last Updated (Wednesday, 19 May 2010 12:14)