Making Sense of Nutrition Labels
Nutrition information labels are found on most packaged foods across the world. Whilst the purpose of these labels are to educate consumers on nutritional content of food and beverages, they can sometimes be easily misinterpreted or completely disregarded.
Here is our step-by-step guide on how to interpret and understand these labels:
1. Serving Size – the serving size will be listed as a standardised unit (e.g. grams, cup, tablespoon etc.) and is usually included with the amount of servings per package. You need to consider that your own serving size may be more or less (or maybe the same) to what is recommended on the packaging. Note here, that it is very easy to ASSUME that one packet = one serve (especially on items that are individually packaged), but this is not always the case – we’re looking at you, Lenny and Larry’s!
2. Energy – the unit of energy will either be listed in Kilojoules (kJ) and/or Calories (kcal) per serve and usually per 100g. You can use the ‘per 100g’ column to compare the nutritional profile of different products. The amount of energy from a product is calculated from the macronutrients listed further down the label – protein, fat and carbohydrates.
3. Macronutrients: Protein, Fat and Carbohydrates – daily requirements of these nutrients will vary between individuals and will be dependent on a number of factors, such as – gender, age, weight, activity level and current body composition goal. All we can suggest here, is to DISREGARD the % of Daily Value or RDI as this is only general advice, commonly based on a 2000kcal diet, and is not specific to your own individual dietary requirements or goals.
4. Fibre – most people don’t hit their RDI of fibre, so we say the more the merrier! The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) advises an Adequate Intake of 30g for adult males and 25g for adult females. We recommend the above values be considered as your minimum targets, and capping your fibre intake at around 50-60g per day.
5. Ingredients – for the vast majority of people, the list of ingredients isn’t as important as you may think. Unless you have allergies or a pre-disposed medical condition, you’d be better off paying more attention to the macronutrient content. After all, your body doesn’t actually “recognise” individual ingredients, but it does recognise the macro/micronutrient profile of them.
Next time you’re strolling down the isles of a grocery store, pay more attention to the nutritional information labels– pick up a few similar products and compare the nutritional data. If you find anything exceptional, drop it in the comments below!
Image source: www.eatforhealth.gov.au