Keep these 5 things in mind when going through a nutrition labelPosted on:18 September 2021, 12:00pm IST
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To lead an active and healthy life, making balanced dietary choices is a must. This seemingly simple technique of indulging in a healthy and balanced diet, will also go a long way in lowering the risk of many health conditions, such as diabetes and cholesterol.
The first step towards consuming a healthy diet, is to be aware of what exactly you are consuming. The world now relies heavily on packaged foods, due to ease of accessibility and availability. Hence, it is critical to tread carefully when choosing the foods and drinks you consume. This is where a nutrition label becomes really important, as it is our gateway to information that directly concerns our health and wellbeing.
Being mindful in understanding and using a product’s nutrition label can help you make healthier dietary choices and select nutrient heavy foods for your diet.
Here are five things to keep in mind when going through a nutrition label
1. Serving size
Each packaged item comes with its own unique serving size, and the nutrition label will reflect the total number of servings. There could be a case that a single packaged food item may contain multiple servings. Serving size highlights the amount of food or drink, to be consumed at one time, by one person. So, if you are not careful, then you may end up consuming more calories than required.
2. Calories and fat
Calories refer to the potential amount of energy you can derive from a particular food or drink. The nutrition label indicates the total number of calories in a serving of the food or drink. The number of calories should ideally be balanced with the number of calories your body uses. As a thumb rule, 2000 calories a day is the generally accepted marker for daily requirements. When it comes to fats, they could be healthy or unhealthy. While monounsaturated fats are considered healthy for your cardiovascular health, saturated fats are deemed harmful, as they could increase the risk of heart ailments. As per the World Health Organization (WHO), calories should be in balance with energy expenditure, so total fat should not exceed 30 percent of total energy intake. Hence, a nutrition label can help you make healthy choices.
When looking at a nutrition label, ensure to identify dietary fiber, which is an easy to digest carbohydrate. Minerals such as calcium, and vitamins such as vitamin D, also play an important role in maintaining overall health. Be mindful of the percent daily value (DV), which will tell that percentage of each nutrient in a single serving, recommended for daily intake.
4. Sodium content
Sodium is a mineral, commonly found in table salt. Nutrition labels reveal the sodium content in a particular food, and while it is important to muscle and nervous system function, in high quantities, it can cause heart and kidney ailments. It is widely used as a preservative to increase the shelf life of foods, so its regulated and careful intake is vital for your overall health. In fact, as per research by the International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research preservatives can cause serious health hazards such as hypersensitivity, allergy, asthma, hyperactivity, neurological damage, and weight gain.
Sugars are added to processed and packaged foods as a taste enhancer and preservative. The nutrition label will highlight the various types of sugars being used, from sucrose to table sugar. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Cleveland Clinic found that a diet that is high in sugar content can lead to inflammation. Understanding the sugar content in a food product or drink, can help you make informed choices, and stay within your daily calorie requirement.
So, ladies, keep these tips in mind, the next time you read a nutrition label, and lead healthier lives!