Food Labels

Apple Nutrition by FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Food labels are on every piece of packaged food; but you won't find one on a apple for example. You can google the nutritional information for an apple, but and apple doesn't need a label.

It's very easy to misread food labels. One package of chips may contain 2 helpings- how crazy is that! The outside of a great new processed cereal may say only 5 grams sugar- until you read the label and find that one serving is 1/4 cup. That looks like unfair advertising to me.

But, buyer beware. You must read the label - and understand what it says- to know what you are getting.


Just the Facts in Five Parts

  1. At the top is the size of a serving and how many servings in a package. This is very important because everything below assumes you are eating just one serving.
  2. Number of calories and how many of those calories are from fat. Fat contains more calories. This may make more sense than a % of fat.
  3. The third grouping lists several nutritional items with the amount (grams) and the % for a daily value of a healthy diet. The FDA has determined what is needed for the average person. 470mg sodium = 20% of what you should eat all day - Fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbs, fiber, sugar, and protein.
  4. Next are the vitamins and minerals as a % needed daily
  5. The footnote gives you more information for the items with a *  which tells you "% are based on a 2,000 and 2,500 calorie diet". This statement must be on all food labels

First Things First

I taught my kids one thing on the cereal nutrition label- read the listing of ingredients. If sugar was listed first, they couldn't buy. Why did I do that? 

First, I wanted them to know that there is more to look at than the pretty picture on the front of the box and more than the commercial with the funny animals.

Second, sugar was the most important thing. Too much sugar wasn't "good for you".

Third, they couldn't read most of the other ingredients listed. Not just because they were in grade school, but because, who can read some of that stuff? Too many letters with no meaning to me.

So, sugar was the one thing to look for.

Oh, by the way, did you know that the ingredients are listed in the order of    weight (from most to least). If sugar is first, there's alot of sugar.

What's the most important nutritional number for you? Sodium? Carbs? Sugar?

What Color is the Label?

Again, this isn't unfair advertising, but do I feel manipulated. But, then, that is what advertising does.

Look at your food labels- are they green. A Cornell University study did a study of 93 students using three different colored nutrition labels.

Green nutrition labels lead the study group to believe the food was healthy. Even while reading the actual numbers, they saw a healthier food.

Red labels were seen as unhealthy, even with the same printed information.

White labels were then used, and again, were seen as less healthy.

Kermit the frog would be happy to learn that "green" means healthy.

Don't be fooled, the numbers make the difference.

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