Reading a Nutrition Label
The Nutrition Facts label is found on food packages in your supermarket. Reading the label tells you more about the food and the nutrients it supplies. The government requires the nutrition and ingredient information you see on the food label.
Some food packages have a short or abbreviated nutrition label. These foods contain only a few of the nutrients required on the standard label and can use a short label format. What ‘s on the label depends on what’s in the food. Small- and medium-size packages with very little label space also may use a short label format.
NUTRITIONAL FACTS LABEL
Here's what the label looks like with an explanation of its new features.
Nutritional Facts Title:
The new title "Nutritional Facts" signals the new label.
Serving sizes and standardized based on amount people actually eat. Now similar food products have similar serving sizes making it easier to compare foods in the same category.
New Label Information:
Some label information may not be familiar to you. The nutrient list covers those nutrients most important to your health. You may have seen this information on some old labels, but now it is required by the government and must appear on all food labels.
% Daily Value:
The Present Daily Value shows how a food fits into a 2,000 calorie reference diet. These levels are based on dietary recommendations for most healthy people. Percent Daily Values help you judge whether a food contains "a lot" or "a little" of key nutrients important to health.
Vitamins and Minerals:
The Percent Daily Value replaces the Percent U.S. RDA for vitamins and minerals. The levels are the same. Only vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, and fortified nutrients are required on the new label: Additional vitamins and minerals can be listed voluntarily.
Daily Values Footnote:
Daily Values are the new label reference numbers. These numbers are set by the government and are based on current nutrition recommendations. Some labels list Daily Values for a diet of 2,000 and 2,500 calories per day. Your own nutrient needs may be less than or more than the Daily Values on the label.
Calories Per Gram Footnote:
Some labels tell the appropriate number of calories in a gram of fat, carbohydrate, and protein. (One gram is about the weight of a regular paperclip.) This information helps you calculate the percentage of calories from theses nutrients.
Numbers on the nutrition label may be rounded for labeling.
LABEL NUTRITIONAL CLAIMS
Now, you can believe the claims on the food labels. Some food packages make claims such as "light," "low fat," and "cholesterol free." Keep in mind that these claims are for packaged food products, not necessarily recipes, and can be used only if a food meets strict government definitions. Here are some of the meanings:
LABEL CLAIM: DEFINITION (PER SERVING)
Low Calorie: 40 calories or fewer
Light (or Lite): 1/3 fewer calories or 50 percent less fat than the original product if more than half the calories are from fat, fat content must be reduced by 50 percent or more
Light in Sodium: 50 percent less sodium
Fat Free: Less than 0.5 gram of fat
Low Fat: 3 grams or fewer of fat
Cholesterol Free: Fewer than 2 milligrams of cholesterol and 2 grams or fewer of saturated fat
Low Cholesterol: 20 milligrams or fewer of cholesterol and 2 grams or fewer of saturated fat
Sodium Free: Fewer than 5 milligrams of sodium
Very Low Sodium: 35 milligrams or fewer of sodium
Low Sodium: 140 milligrams or fewer of sodium
High Fiber: 5 grams or more of fiber
From "Betty Crocker's Low-Fat, Low-Cholesterol Cooking Today." Text Copyright 2005 General Mills, Inc. Used with permission of the publisher, Wiley Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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