Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Food Labeling: Part 2

Knowing about food labeling is important for any diet that is based on making choices among different foods on the basis of calories, fat content, carbohydrates, and sodium. Tracking our food consumption allows us to make informed decisions about what and even whether to eat.

An Overview of the Nutrition Facts Label

The nutrition facts label is required on most commercially prepared foods and its use is voluntary on raw fruits, vegetables, and fish. The following sample label is color coded to make discussing its different sections more convenient.

The Serving Size (Blue)

The serving size section is the place to start when reading nutrition labels because it lists the serving and the number of servings in the package. Serving sizes are standardized to make it easier to compare similar foods and are provided in ordinary units, such as cups or pieces, followed by the amount in grams.

The serving size and the number of servings in the packages determines the number of calories and the amount of nutrients. When evaluating the food product, we need to know what amount we are going to eat in order to determine the nutrient content of that amount. In the sample label, one serving is one cup and there are two cups in the package. If we eat the whole package, we have to double the calories, fat, and other nutrients on the label.

Calories and Calories from Fat (orange)

Calories measure how much energy is contained in a serving of this food. If we consume more calories than we need, the result is weight gain; less than we need to maintain our weight results in weight loss. The calorie section of the label can therefore help manage weight gain, loss, or maintenance. The following general guide to calories is based on a 2,000 calorie diet and may be helpful when reading the calories and fat section of the nutrition facts label.

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

In the example, the total number of calories in one serving is 250 and the number of calories from fat is 110. A quick calculation (110/250 X 100=44%) shows us that nearly half (44%) the calories in this food come from fat. We would want to use this food sparingly if we want to keep our total daily intake of fat below 20-30%.

I will continue with label reading in the next installment. Here is my recap for the last two days (I left my thumb drive at school yesterday).

Daily Dietary Recap-5/7/2007
Calories Protein Carbohydrates SodiumFat % Calories from Fat
1315.26 62.68 g 218.83 g747.45 mg 18.46 g 12.57%

Daily Dietary Recap-5/8/2007
Calories Protein Carbohydrates SodiumFat % Calories from Fat
1261.94 62.83 g 231.98 g1085.55 mg 13.95 g 9.91%


david mcmahon said...

Hi Joel,

I do like the change in layout - gives the page such a fresh look.

Great to see.


Joel said...

Thanks David. I've been trying to add more photos of the food I cook and to use graphics better. I'm happy you noticed.