.Nutrition product cannot be legit if they do not have nutrition labels which guide consumers in making informed food choices. Therefore, nutrition labels help consumers understand the product in details. So, the nutritional labels help to illustrate the size and number of calories in a nutritional product. However, nutrition labels and making informed food choices can be overwhelming and at times difficult to understand. This article will help you understand what nutrition labels are and inform food choices. You will get to understand the importance of nutrition labels and how to make informed food choices.
Why nutrition labels and informed food choices
You may have come across a nutrition label while you were purchasing a product say a nutritional supplement. Maybe because you were rushing to catch up with your friends, you may not read through everything that was written on it. Nevertheless, nutrition labels inform you about the ingredients that make up particular products. The nutrition labels have information such as the percentage of sugar and sodium in a particular product. Therefore, with a medical condition you may consider products that have saturated fats. So, these nutritional labels help you make informed food choices. So, the information that you get on the food labels is meant to help you become savvy about food choices.
Where do check the nutrition labels?
You will find the nutrition labels on the front, back, and sides of the product. The nutrition labels are filled with information about the product. So, on these labels, you will see what the food contains and guidance in making healthy and informed food choices.
Features of the nutrition labels
This is an important aspect that you need to consider when buying a nutrition product. You may avoid saturated fats and too much sugar as they are associated with adverse health effects. Consumption of too much sugar and sodium increases the risk of blood pressure and heart disease. Therefore, you could concentrate on products with less sugar and sodium.
What about the added sugars and the total sugars?
The total sugars on the nutrition labels include naturally present sugars in beverages and other nutritious foods. However, there is no daily reference value for total sugars since there is no recommendation established for the total amount of sugars.
On the other hand, added sugars include sugars that are added to the nutritional product during processing. Such sugars may include dexterous and sucrose. Therefore, food high in calories (added sugars) can be difficult to meet the recommended nutrition.
Which nutrients should you pay much focus on?
Fiber-it helps to solidify your stool and helps in the absorption of water.
Vitamin D– This vitamin helps in the regulation of calcium.
Calcium-You need calcium for strong bones.
And potassium-This element is responsible for normal fluid levels in your body.
As you purchase your nutrition product it is important to check the number of fats. So, fats can be saturated or unsaturated. These are good fats. Therefore, ensure that you take these fats in moderation. On the other hand, there are saturated fats. You should consume these fats in smaller amounts. The unsaturated fats fall under polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fats. Remember, fats also in:
- Regulation of temperatures
- Protecting your organs
- Hormone production
- Provision of energy
- Structural component
- And transportation of vitamins
When you check the nutrition label you will notice there is a list of total fat, total saturated fats, and total fats per serving. For instance, a serving could have 8 grams of total fat,1 gram of saturated fat and 0 grams of transfat.7 grams of fat could come from mono and polyunsaturated fat which are listed on the nutritional label. Studies have shown that there is a link between saturated fats and colon cancer. So, if possible avoid saturated fats.
3.Check the portion size
This is another important aspect that you need to put into consideration whenever you are purchasing a nutrition product. You mostly find information regarding the portion size on the front part and the back of the packet label. The manufacturers give nutritional information per portion size. Therefore, as a consumer, you need to put into consideration the portion of food that you eat. If you tend to eat too much food, you might need to train your brain to control your eating habits.
Your portion size cannot be beneficial if you don’t factor in your energy density. This is the energy that you get from a particular diet. In this case, you look at the number of calories to determine the energy density. Foods such as biscuits or quiche are high in calories. On the other hand, foods like carrots and apples are less dense. Therefore, if you go for energy-dense food then it’s important to consider your portion size.
In addition to this, you could also consider going for a smaller plate to control the amount of food that you eat. Remember, a medium-sized portion tends to look small on a big plate. So, serving your food on a small plate will help you a lot. If you are not sure how to measure up your food, you can use a cup. You do not require a special cup to measure up the food. Any cup will do. It could be a mug, a container, or a teacup.
Proteins fall under the category of macronutrients. They repair your body whenever there is a tissue damage. For instance, exercise destroys muscle tissues. Therefore, proteins (amino acids) help repair damaged tissues. Your body require at least 3 grams of protein.
How much protein does your body require?
Health experts recommend from 10% to 35% of calories come from proteins. Therefore if you require 2000 calories then you should take between 50 and 175 grams. You should put into consideration your weight too. For instance, a person who weighs 75kg can take 60 grams of protein in a day.
Also as you grow old, your protein requirements change. This is because you tend to lose muscle mass as you age. So you are required to your protein intake by 1.2 grams per 75kg. This is to help replace the lost muscle. Those who are engaged in physical activities such as running and weight lifting could also increase their protein intake by 1.3 grams per kg. You can consult your dietician to help calculate your body protein requirement.
When to take the proteins
You can consume proteins any time of the day. Therefore, it is advisable to take at least 15 grams of protein during mealtime.
5.Cholesterol level and sodium.
This is another important aspect that you need to put into consideration before making informed food choices. This is because you require cholesterol and sodium every day in your diet. There are two types of cholesterol namely:
- The low-density cholesterol-This is the bad cholesterol since it tends to build up plaques in the arteries which lead to blockages of the blood vessels.
- High-density cholesterol.-This cholesterol is highly recommendable since it helps lower levels of bad cholesterol.
Your body requires cholesterol to:
- Help in the manufacture of new tissues and repairing the damaged ones.
- Production of hormones
- Production of bile
- Helps in the production of vitamin D
Your body require sodium Sodium to perform various functions. This mineral comes from sodium chloride or table salt. Sodium is helps in:
- Fluid balance
It is critical to take sodium in moderation since too much of it can have adverse effects, especially in people who are sensitive to sodium.
6.Go for the whole grain
As you check the nutrition labels; ensure that you go for whole grains products. This is because whole grain products contain complex carbohydrates and are highly nutritious. Refined grains can cause health problems such as obesity and heart-related problems. Refined grains have few nutrients and vitamins compared with whole grains. These are some of the reasons why you should go for the whole grain:
- Having lots of fiber-fiber helps control blood sugar in people who are diabetic. So, fiber slows down the absorption of sugars hence improving blood sugar levels.
- You live a healthy life when you consume a diet rich in fiber, and you have reduced chances of dying from heart-related disease and cancer.
- Improve bowel health-research has shown that consumption of fiber can lower the risk of having hemorrhoids. What’s more, fiber lowers the risk of cancer and hence prevents colon diseases.
- Helps in digestion-soluble fiber is critical in slowing digestion. What’s more fiber reduce the risk of diverticulitis disease.
These are the things that you should check on the nutritional labels to make informed food choices: nutrients, Fats, Check portion size, Proteins, Cholesterol level, and sodium and whole grain. Lastly, as you read the nutrition labels, it is also advisable to consult your dietician for more guidance.