Many of us are guilty of pulling an item off the shelf in the grocery and not even glancing at the label. As the old saying goes “you are what you eat,” I think it is important to read food labels and know what we are consuming. Before 1994 almost all food labels just listed ingredients, today they have greatly expanded information that can be very important to your health. Here are some basics you should know and understand.
Serving size is usually the first thing to be listed on food label; this is the calculation upon which all the other numbers on the food label are based. Be aware when you are reading nutritional content you are reading for the serving size, which is usually less than the serving per container. For example a bag of 8 cookies with be the serving per container, 2 cookies will be your “serving size” and calculations on nutritional value will be based on 2 cookies, if you eat the whole bag of cookies you may want to get a calculator and multiply everything by 4. Next you will usually see the amount of calories per serving. Calorie is a unit of energy or heat your body generates from the food you eat (proteins, fats and carbohydrates). Usually a breakdown of calories from fat, this is an important area to look at especially if you are watching their fat intake and calories. It then goes on to list total fat, saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat. We should be consuming more of the healthier monounsaturated and fewer saturated and polyunsaturated ones.
Next cholesterol is listed. This indicates the number of milligrams of cholesterol per serving. This is a number we want to see on the lower side and it is important to limit the amount of cholesterol we ingest, the daily value is accepted at 300mg per day. Sodium is usually listed next and we should keep this number no higher of 2,500mg per day. Please remember this number is per serving, so if you are eating more than the servings size you may be getting more than you should be. Also listed with be total carbohydrates, dietary fiber, sugars and other nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
If you have questions about labels and reading labels I would suggest talking to you local nutritionist like San Diego Chiropractor, Dr. Henry Wong. Dr. Wong and other San Diego Chiropractor agree that nutrition is just as important as spinal health and are taking extra measure to ensure their patients are informed and educated about nutrition. Many wellness companies are offering workshops and even cooking class to help promote good eating. Remember you are in control of what you consume. Take time to read labels and ensure you are making the best choices.