Easier to Read: The New Nutrition Label

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The new nutrition label should be on foods by this time next year, 2016. It is a great improvement on the current label. Consumers will be able to make more educated food decisions. Eat whole, unprocessed foods that aren’t packaged most of the time. But when you are purchasing foods with a label, do so empowered with the knowledge of how to read them.

  1. The Ingredients list:
    • Try to keep the list to 6 and under for number of ingredients
    • Look for ‘whole’ grain listed first in the list, ie. whole wheat, whole brown rice, or whole oats
    • Make sure that added sugars (sucrose, glucose, dextrose, honey*, maple syrup*, brown rice syrup*, or corn syrup) are either not on the list or low on the list *best added sugars
    • Partially hydrogenated oils of any kind should not be in the list
  2. Serving Size and Calories:
    • The current label has the serving size and calories on it, but it is in much smaller print than the proposed label
    • The proposed label has this information bold and and easy to read
    • Pay attention to calories, they matter. Pay attention to the serving size it matters too. If the calories on the label are for a cup serving size and you eat two cups, you need to double the calories
    • The servings per container are now listed more boldly as well. Sodas and individually packaged snacks can sometimes deceive consumers because the calories will look reasonable until you look at the number of servings. A product that is 100 calories per serving seems like a reasonable treat, until you realize there are 4 servings in the container, that reasonable snack all of the sudden becomes a calorie glut
    • When comparing foods, pay attention to serving size. One item may be lower in calories but the serving size may also be lower.
    • Food processing companies have learned a lot of tricks to manipulate health and nutrition information to keep the consumer confused or deceived when reading these labels, staying educated helps to keep you a head of the game.
  3. Fat on the label:
    • Partially hydrogenated oil should not be listed in the ingredients list (yes, I did repeat this statement, and yes it is worth repeating)
    • 0 grams trans-fat is a must
    • A variety of fats will help to ensure you are getting all of the fat nutrition you need
      • saturated fats
      • mono-unsaturated
      • poly-unsaturated
    • Cholesterol: look for low cholesterol processed food (keep eating eggs though)
    • Fat from nuts, seeds, and unprocessed vegetable oils are the best sources in processed foods
    • Fat from pasture-raised animals and wild fatty-fish are best animal sources
  4. Limit Sodium in processed foods, add sea salt to home cooked foods sparingly
  5. Carbohydrate on the label:
    • Low-glycemic (low-carbohydrate) foods are helpful for controlling blood sugar and weight.
    • Look for foods high in dietary fiber and low in sugars
    • The proposed label helps the consumer differentiate added sugars compared to natural sugars from fruit and milk
      • keep added sugars under 5 grams
      • keep total sugars under 10 grams
      • take note of serving size in relation to grams of sugar
      • 4 grams = 1 teaspoon
  6. Eat approximately half your body weight in grams of protein per day. Choose a variety of protein sources including, pasture-raised meats, beans, cheese, yogurt, eggs
  7. Use the label to identify foods rich in vitamins and minerals. 
    • Look for food with high %DV for Vitamins A & C, potassium, calcium and iron
    • Get the most nutrition for you calories – compare products and choose the most nutrient dense food compared to calories
    • 5% or less is low
    • 20% or more is high

The proposed nutrition label will help you make the best decisions for you and your family if you know how to read it correctly. Knowledge is power.

If you have more questions about the current or proposed label, please email me at tara@monheganwellness.com