Nutrition Labels: What Does It All Mean? Part 2

220px-US_Nutritional_Fact_Label_2.svgHere is part 2 of “Reading Nutrition Labels.” If you missed part 1, click HERE.

SUGARS: one of the biggest drawbacks of our current labeling system is that labels do not differentiate between naturally occurring sugars and added sugars. Naturally occurring sugar from an apple or from dairy is not the same as added sugar from corn syrup.

  • If sugar is listed as ingredient #1 or #2, LEAVE IT! Ingredients on the ingredient list are in order of volume in the product.
  • Sugar is EVERYWHERE! Not only in sweets, but in salad dressings, pasta sauce, bread, crackers and many many more products. Read the labels and take this into account when “budgeting” your sugar for the day.
  • Experts recommend no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day for adults, and that’s VERY easy to do by lunch time!
  • Identify sugar by its many “disguises”: any word ending in –ose (glucose, fructose,sucrose), syrups (corn syrup, brown rice syrup), and ALWAYS avoid products with HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, which is especially dangerous!
  • % DAILY VALUE
    • The % DV gives you information based on a 2,000 calorie diet recommended for women and a 2,500 calorie diet recommended for men.
    • Most young athletes will require many more calories per day, so this number needs to be adjusted to your personal daily caloric intake.

A few last words regarding the INGREDIENT LIST:

  • This list is as important or more important that the nutrition label
  • ELIMINATE products with trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils) and high fructose corn syrup entirely! Look especially at crackers, cookies, ketchup and even peanut butter
  • AVOID artificial colors and flavors
  • AVOID long lists and difficult-to-pronounce words
  • Make sure the ingredients are natural and involve mostly whole foods, NOT science experiments! (What exactly are Cheetos?!)

Proposed changes to the Nutrition Fact Label

  • In March of 2014, the FDA proposed changes to the nutrition fact labels, and food manufacturers will have to adapt these changes by January 1st, 2018
  • Food servings are getting a reality check- the number will be displayed in a larger font and updated, so a can of soda will be one serving and a serving of ice cream will no longer be ½ cup (who can eat just that?)
  • Added sugars will be separated from total sugar amount and a % DV will be included
  • The Total calories number will be larger font and easier to identify
  • The %DV will be updated to a more reasonable daily amount of calories
  • Other nutrients will be added to the label: calcium, vitamin D, iron and potassium among others

 

Hope this helps! Next time you go grocery shopping, budget a little extra time to do your own “research!”

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