Monday, October 13, 2014

Look at those LABELS!

By Labels, I do not mean the Brand Labels of High-end Fashion wear/accessories.
 Here I am going to talk purely about FOOD labels. How many of us actually see the food label before we pick up something at the grocery store? Do we actually understand what they really mean even if we spot them at the edge of our visual fields? How much of these nutrients do we really need in a day? Are we eating too much of something or too less of something?

Food labels have a great deal of information on the calorific and nutritional contents of foods as well as any additives they may have.

As a Nutritionist, I will try my best to explain these food labels. For Example, lets look at the label of my Favorite Breakfast cereal (Random pick for food-label preview) 

Product description:
Food Type: Breakfast cereal
Name: Nestle Fitness Wholegrain Cereal
Net Wt: 375g
Description: Low fat, 53% wholegrain
 Number of portions: 13
"Guideline Daily Amounts of an average adult (2000kcal)"

  • Total weight: 375g of cereal with 13 portion sizes. So if you consume 30g of cereal /day- this box should last you for 13 days. 
  • GDA: Guideline Daily Amount
  • This Food Label is based on 2000kcal diet of an average adult (as specified on the box). As we all know that the recommended calorie intake for females is 1600-2200kcal/day and for males it is 2000-2800kcal/day.  So you can adjust your portion size depending on your calorie intake.
  • One portion size is given to be 30g with 125ml of skimmed milk. Calories: 154kcal which is 8% of the total calories you can consume in a day according to the 2000kcal diet. 
  • Recommended daily allowance (RDA) of proteins is around 50gm (depends on the situation, for males and body-builders it is higher) . One portion has 6.9g which is 14% of 50g (approx).
  • Carbohydrate count is important, particularly for diabetics. The RDA of carbohydrates is around 300g. One portion contains 29.7g of carbohydrates of which simple sugars is 11.2g. Simple sugars don't add much to a healthy diet and must be avoided especially by those who want to lose weight and diabetics.
  • Look for the unhealthy fats especially the amount of saturated fat and Cholesterol levels. One portion contains only 0.2g of saturates! RDA of fat <65g. RDA of saturated fat <20g. Total Cholesterol/day <300mg
  • Watch for high fiber content foods since they are insoluble , pass through the bowels, so eating foods high in fiber content aids in weight loss as they make you feel full without adding calories! RDA of fibers is 25g at least.
  •  Sodium levels are important especially when you are dealing with high blood pressure. The sodium is 0.2g. The salt level is 0.2 x 2.5 = 0.5g/portion only. The RDA (salt) is 6g approx and for sodium 2400mg.


 Scan through the ingredients to see if there is something which you are allergic to (e.g peanuts), or something you want to avoid (Gluten in Celiac Disease). 

This product was used just as a sample. You can apply the same information and RDA values to practically any food label you see in the market.

 You must be thinking "Oh My! this is going to take me hours at the grocery store!!" 
But Remember: Practice not only makes you perfect, but also Quicker! ;)

After seeing this label, I think I did make a good choice in selecting my breakfast cereal. Good amount of Carbs for the morning-kickstart, decent proteins and fiber amount, low fat, almost no saturates, low sodium and ONLY 154 calories total! Win- Win :)

**RDA values are close approximates, Guidelines are subject to change with future research in the field of Nutrition.**

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