When you’re shopping for food, nutrition labels can be a bit intimidating. However, if you know what to look for, they can help you make more informed choices that suit your lifestyle and health goals.
The first step is to understand the basics of serving size. These are the amounts you typically eat of a particular product at one time, in common household measurements such as cups or ounces.
Decoding Nutrition Labels
When you walk into the breakfast aisle and pick out a favorite cereal, the first thing you might do is glance at its nutrition facts label. But that panel of numbers and percentages isn’t always easy to read.
If you want to make smarter food choices, reading labels is a must. For example, people with a health condition like diabetes or kidney disease often need to know exactly how much of certain nutrients they can have in a meal, and labels can help them make that choice.
One key tool on many nutrition labels is the % Daily Value (%DV). This tells you the percentage of a nutrient you need to get from your diet in order to be healthy, and it can be especially helpful when comparing similar products.
A Guide to Key Nutrients and Ingredients
Whether you’re in the mood for the big bowl of cereal or something a little smaller, it’s important to know how to read the nutrition labels. This will help you to pick a healthier option that will keep your body healthy and your wallet happy.
A well-designed cereal box should include the basics like the amount of calories, fat and sodium in a serving as well as other key nutritional information. These may be printed in the form of a chart or in the small print of the ingredients list.
How to Make Sense of Serving Sizes
Often the front of food packaging features pictures that suggest a serving size. These images can influence how much people eat, even though the recommended serving size is verbally stated on nutrition labels.
Our studies show that depicted serving sizes on cereal boxes are about 65% larger than suggested serving size. Such exaggerated portions may contribute to overeating and obesity.
The FDA has primarily focused regulation of serving size suggestions on the verbally suggested serving sizes on nutrition panels. However, the current work suggests that depicted serving size on product packaging also offers a more salient and powerful guide to consumption.
Tips for Comparing Nutrition Information
If you’re a newbie to the nutrition labels on custom boxes, you may feel intimidated by all of the confusing numbers. But a little familiarization with nutrition facts can go a long way to helping you make the most informed choices for your family.
The first step is to read the ingredient list and look for sugar, fats and salt. These ingredients are typically listed in descending order of weight, which makes it easier to compare similar products.
Next, compare the serving sizes to find out how much you’re really getting. For instance, if the serving size is a cup but you eat more than one cup, you’re probably getting more calories, sugar and other nutrients than what the label says.
Making Informed Choices
If you’re a health-conscious shopper, you know that it pays to read the label on your favorite cereal. The food label provides information about how much of the nutrients you need to be healthy, such as fiber, protein, carbohydrates and vitamins.
You’ll also learn about how much fat, sugar, and sodium are in a serving size of a particular product. Using this information can help you choose foods that are more nutritious or less harmful.
However, it’s important to note that reading nutrition labels can be confusing if you haven’t done so before.