Nutrition: How to Read a Nutrition Facts Label and Its Benefits

Nutrition: How to Read a Nutrition Facts Label and Its Benefits

Nutrition label & /or Nutrient Facts on label:

  • Information for consumers on the food as per FDA and law of land that tells about the food. 
  • It provides the composition and either necessary details for a healthy balanced diet and to avoid other associated complications in case of any persisting complications.
  • Every packaged &/ or processed prod consumable product will have a detailed blueprint and label with the manufacturer’s recipe as well as interactions if in case it can produce.
  •  It has become trendy in many parts which are also incorporated by law of land as a legal necessity for restaurants to follow desired mentioning of labels including nutrition facts- as consumer rights. 
  • Well not only this label includes amounts but also detailed per serving as a percentage of the daily value is mentioned for all ingredients forming composition

Enumerated certain major concerns listed on the nutrition label are as follows:

  1. Calories
  2. Total Fat
  3. Saturated Fat
  4. Trans Fat
  5. Cholesterol
  6. Sodium (Salt)
  7. Total Carbohydrate
  8. Dietary Fiber
  9. Sugars
  10. Protein
  11. Vitamins 
  12. Minerals
  13. Antioxidants
  14.  Veg or Non-veg source
  15.  Serving size of each component listed above

Serving Size

  1. Amount of food typically eaten at one time. 
  2. This size is in a basic measurement as an example; a serving maybe 7 potato chips or 1 cup of cereal.
  3. For normal healthy diet normally eat to the serving size is a key followed by specialized nutrition is hence this has gain importance when listed on the nutrition label. 
  4. Large servings or portions can lead to side effects & / or complications like. The larger your portions are, the more calories you eat. For example, the label may list a serving size as 7 potato chips in percentage the amount of intake for each nutrient. 
  5. This is also important as it is totally dependent on demographic details and systemic conditions like gender, age, activity level, any other associated comorbidity for example diabetes.
  6. For a healthy person, nutrients consumption is necessary where it becomes a necessity to restrict the intake of saturated and trans-fats that are unhealthy. 

What are things to be considered?

The most important things to be considered in mentioning labels by manufacturers and for reading by consumers are ingredients listed; as some are good while others may deteoriate the condition of host consuming it dependent on various factors. Therefore, it becomes very very important to mention and read the contraindications of each ingredient in the label. 

Some nutrients to be consumed as healthy inclusions of diet and included in the nutrient label are as follows:

  1. Fiber.  Helps to digest the food & also lower the risk of certain comorbid conditions like diabetes, heart disease. 

When is food considered high in fiber? - if it contains 5 grams or more per serving. 

Gender association with high fiber diet: till 50 years male should get at least 38 grams of fiber per day on contrary female till 5th decade advised to take at least 25 grams of fiber per day. 

Where is fiber found in food? -  fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. 

  1. Vitamins and minerals.  vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron are some main intakes including Vitamin D & potassium, magnesium which also is important. 

[consult with a doctor before consuming vitamins and minerals required by your body; before starting fortified food or supplements]

Every coin has another side where nutrients are good they are bad as well and should be eaten less; among them, some not uncommon are illustrated below:

  1. Saturated fat: increase the risk of heart disease and contributes to high cholesterol. 

[The average adult consumption < 20 grams of saturated fat per day is advisable without any associated comorbid condition otherwise].

  1. Tran’s fat: increases the risk of heart disease, conditions like thrombosis. [ideally - 0 grams of trans fat per day intake is considered, but it seems impossible so less than 0.5g is always acceptable range]

What are the foods that have Tran Fat? -  includes any hydrogenated vegetable oils and present in baked goods, fried foods, snack foods, margarine.

  1. Cholesterol:  eat < 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day and in case of heart disease <200 milligrams per day is advised.

Dietary guidelines have suggested different ingredients as per daily activity:

  • An inactive person with 1,000 to 3,000 steps per day. 
  • Moderately active person with 3,000 to 5,000 steps per day. 
  • Active person with 5,000 steps or more.

Points considered by Dietary guidelines are based on age also: - where children’s calorie needs to be increased with age and on contrary adults need fewer calories once they reach a certain age