Nutrition Facts - What the HECK do those Labels Mean?

Nutrition Facts Labels

Food labels pack a lot of information into some very fine print. It almost makes wonder if they're trying to hide something but by law the information must be truthful.

That doesn't always mean that what you're reading means exactly how it reads.

My former comment is more appropriate to healthy food facts. There are certain meal replacement shakes that list the Carbohydrate amount for example at 24 grams. While some people may believe this to be high, it could be that this is alow glycemic carbohydrate. In which case it might only have the equivalent amount of sugar in an apple versus a sugar pack for your coffee. 


Label Breakdown

Top to Bottom

  • Serving Size - pretty self explanatory but make sure you read it all. A canned beverage will show you what the nutrition facts are for "1 serving" but the can may contain 2 actual servings. This requires that you double the information so you know exactly how much your getting. (In general everyone eats/drinks more than one serving.)
  • Calories - A unit to measure energy. Its the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of a gram of water by 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit. Just for the record it doesn't really serve you to count calories. More often than not you're eating "empty" calories or those lacking in any nutrient value.
  • Total Fat- Trans fats are to be avoided. There are some healthy fats that you should eat. The Mono, Poly, saturated, and unsaturated. Be sure to get a variety of these as it is the preferred energy source of the body.
  • Cholesterol - Dietary cholesterol isn't bad for you. The American Heart Association recommends a daily average intake of 300 milligrams. A bigger concern is the oxidation of the cholesterol in our bodies.
  • Sodium - Most processed foods will have a high level of sodium associated with them. Your intake shouldn't go over 2400 milligrams/day. This culprit will raise your blood pressure and cause water retention.
  • Carbohydrates - the best place to get your carbs is from fresh fruit and vegetables along with whole grains. Most boxed foods will contain highly processed and refined forms of carbs.
  • Fiber - you'll want at least 30 grams/day. It helps with digestion and in the stabilization of blood sugars. Plus it will make you feel full longer.
  • Protein - this is a key building block for your muscles and organs. Everyone's needs are different but make it a point to balance out your protein and carbs. Again, stay away from processed meat products like sausage and hot dogs. If you can eat grass fed beef, wild Alaskan Salmon, and free-range chicken.
  • % of Daily Value - this shows you how much of each listing/nutrient is represented in a serving based on a 2,000 calorie diet. (That would be 2,000 calories a day. Some fast food meals have that much or more in just one meal.)
  • Recommended amounts of Vitamins and Minerals - The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) was established after WWII to prevent some basic diseases like bari-bari, scurvy and night blindness. Exceeding the RDA is the better bet here. These are the essential nutrients for life.
  • Ingredients - This is the laundry list of thing in your food. The longer the list, the more processed foods in the package. Enriched andHydrogenated are two terms to become familiar with and to stay away from.

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