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How To Read Food Labels So You Know Exactly What You Are Eating

Aug 17, 2007
More and more food companies are coming up with more and more ways to make food cheaper, more convenient to consume, and tastier. With these come new ingredients, skewed nutrition and a lack of understanding for what you are consuming.

When you don't understand what you are consuming, you are risking your health. For instance: not knowing a bag stating "50 calories per serving" means you have to multiply servings to know the total amount of calories, rather than the common misconception that "per serving" means "per bag".

As the average food intake increases, so does the perception on what a serving size means. It is surprising that many people find their perception on what a single serving is, turns out to be about two or three servings in reality!

The ability to read food labels is one of the most effective ways to make good food selections. It spells out the amounts and types of nutrients in the food per serving. However, for this label to be helpful and expend its effectiveness, you must be able to understand what it is saying:

Serving Size

States amounts of nutrients per serving. If you follow the serving size, you acquire the amount of nutrients the label states you will get "per serving".

For example, if you read "one serving equals 5 chips", and that there are 50 calories per serving, eating 5 chips would give you 50 calories. Eating 10 chips would give you 100 calories, and so on. If the bag says it contains 5 servings, you would take 50 and multiply it by 5 to figure out the total amount of calories you've consumed.

Nutrients

The nutrients are generally based on the daily dietary allowance stated (these are usually based on 2,500 or 2,000 calorie diets).

To understand what you are taking in, know that these are based on how the food corresponds to the dietary allowance for a 2,000 calorie diet. If you've purchased something different from the 2,000 calorie diet, divide the amount by 2,000 and you will find your nutrient's % daily value.

Ingredients

A list of all of the items used to produce the product. The list generally begins with the most heavily-used ingredient, and descends into the ingredient least used in the product.

Label Claim

This is the term used for sayings such as "sodium-free!" (Which simply means that it has less than 5 mgs per serving).

Understanding food labels is a very good thing to learn and do. It's important to take care of your body, by taking notice of what you intake, and rationing it out so it stays at a healthy level. Once you understand how to read food labels, you hold the power to take care of yourself.

Indeed, reading food labels can be very tedious and confusing. Nevertheless, once you get the hang of it, it would be easier for you to watch your diet because you can already control the amount of food that you take.
About the Author
Gregg Hall is an author living in Navarre Florida. Find more about this as well as Gourmet Gift Baskets Plus at http://www.gourmetgiftbasketsplus.com
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