What to Look for in Nutrition Facts

If you want to be healthy, you need to eat right.  You need the recommended daily requirements of the proper foods; that are water, minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.  Fresh foods are the best for you, but if you have to buy processed foods at the supermarket, you need to check their required nutrition facts panel. The nutrition facts panel tells all of the ingredients contained in the product.  Food manufacturers must provide this information to the consumer.  The label must indicate the nutritional content percentages. This article is written to help you understand what to look for in nutrition facts.

What are nutrition facts?
The panel tells the number of servings in each total package and what constitutes a serving size.  People who care about their health can calculate the calories present in the package and in each serving.  For example, the nutrition facts label may say it has two servings with each serving 150 calories.  Eating the whole thing then would give you 300 calories.  Many people today are buying versions of foods that are lower in calorie, trying to cut back on their calorie intake.

Fat free products are very popular today, but fat free does not mean calorie free.  Your body needs some good fats and carbohydrates.  They keep your brain and body functioning efficiently.

Fats can be categorized into three groups:

  • “Good Fats” – mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated.  Examples of mono-unsaturated are olive oil and canola oil.  Examples of polyunsaturated fats are omega-3 and omega-6.
  • Saturated Fats.  Examples are red meats such as beef and butter.
  • Trans Fat found in processed foods.

Trans fats are considered unhealthy and they should be avoided.  If hydrogenated oil or partially hydrogenated oil is shown on the ingredients list on the nutrition facts panel, then this food contains trans fats.

Saturated fat is not as bad as Trans Fat, but should still be consumed only in small quantities.  No more than10 percent of your total calories should come from saturated fat.  For example when following a 2,000 calorie diet, only about 20 to 25 grams of saturated fat should be eaten daily.

Sodium content is also listed on the nutrition facts panel. Most people have too much sodium in their diet.  The body needs some sodium to control blood pressure.  It also helps to keep nerves and muscles functioning as they should.  But eating too much sodium may cause high blood pressure and even heart disease. Table salt is made up of 40 percent sodium.  There are 2,300 mg of sodium in just one teaspoon of salt. This is the recommended limit that you should consume in a day.  If you have high blood pressure, you should cut that amount in half.

So when shopping in the supermarket, take the time to look at the nutrition facts panels.  Be a smart and informed consumer and learn what to look for in nutrition facts. Keeping healthy is the most important thing that you can do for yourself and for your family.

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