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Nutrition Facts You Should Know
The Facts about Nutrition Facts
The labels for nutrition facts found on food products all contain the same basic, standardized information. The label will always tell the serving size, the calories per serving and the amount of fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrate and protein found in a serving. Also, the nutrition facts include a percentage of daily values, usually based on a 2,000 calories diet. But just knowing what is on the label is not always helpful; the real question is: what do the nutrition facts mean?
What Should You Know about a Nutrition Facts Label?
Serving size is an important part of the label to keep in mind. Sometimes the actual servings that people eat are more or less than the serving size listed on the label. Therefore, if a bag of chips labels it serving size as half a bag on the nutrition facts label, and you eat the whole bag, you need to remember that you are eating double the amount of calories, fat, cholesterol, etc. listed.
A good synonym to think about when looking at Calories is Energy. In fact many countries other than the United States replace the word “calorie” with “energy” on their nutrition facts label. Therefore, people need calories to have enough energy to do things during the day. However, if you consume more energy than you use, then the calories get stored as fat in your body. The USDA suggests that on average people should consume about 2,000 calories a day to maintain a healthy diet.
The percent of daily values is given to show the limit of how much should be consumed for the other items listed such as fat, cholesterol, etc. Therefore, if a particular food contains a lot of fat, say around 25% of the daily value, you should limit your servings so that you do not go over the suggested allotment. If someone ate four servings of this particular type of food, then they wouldn’t be able to eat anything else with fat in it for the rest of the day in order to not go over the FDA’s dietary recommendations.
How Can Nutrition Facts lead to a Healthy Life?
Health professionals overall suggest that as a general rule of thumb people try to limit intake of substances listed on the top half of the nutrition label and increase the vitamins, minerals and fiber listed on the bottom half of the label. Therefore, fat, cholesterol and sodium should be limited as much as possible. Because of this, it is alright to eat even less than the daily value listed for these items. However, the health community states that people need plenty of dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium and iron. For these nutrients it is recommended that at least the daily percentage value is consumed, if not more.
Following these guidelines has been shown to decrease the risks for certain diseases, such as heart disease or osteoporosis. Another way to follow good nutrition rules is to eat the foods suggested by the food pyramid. The food pyramid instructs to limit fats, oils and added sugars, just like the daily value limits. It also recommends eating plenty of fruit, vegetables and grains in order to get the fiber and vitamins your body needs.