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Food Labels

Whenever I have a chance to go in grocery store, I used to read food labels first. It's not my habit but most of us read the labels first. It helps in choosing food that makeup a healthy diet. These labels are also known as "nutrition information panel". The format used for food panel is different in some countries. In Australia and New Zealand nutrition information is written as servings per package and serving as size. In the European Countries, the information is most often labeled "Nutrition Information". The panel is optional, but if provided, the prescribed content and format must be followed. It will always give values for a set quantity. It is usually 100 g (3.5 oz) or 100 ml (3.5 imp fl oz; 3.4 US fl oz) of the product and often also for a defined "serving". First, will comes the energy values, in both kilo calories and kilojoules. In Canada, Canadian regulation tightly controls the manner in which the nutrition fact table data is laid out. In the U.S., the nutritional facts label lists the percentage supplied required in one day of human nutrients based on the average 2000 calorie a day diet. With certain exceptions, such as foods meant for babies, the following Daily Values are used. These are called Reference Daily Intake values.
Eating a healthful diet can help reduce risk factors for some diseases. For example, too much saturated fat and cholesterol can raise blood cholesterol. Too much sodium causes high blood pressure. The most common terms we find on the products are fats, serving size, calories, daily value, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, dietary fiber, protein, vitamin and minerals.
When you see health claim on product labels, it means these labels are defined by concerned authorities. For example, less than 0.5 gm of fat per serving is fat free, 3 gms of fat (or less) per serving is low fat. In same way, less than 2 milligrams of cholesterol and 2 gms (or less) of saturated fat per serving is called Cholesterol free.
Serving size is the size listed on the label for serving. If you eat double the serving size listed, you need to double the nutrient and calorie values. If you eat one half the serving size shown here, you have to cut the nutrient and calorie values in half. Daily values are listed for people who eat 2,000 or 2,500 calories a day. If you eat more, your personal daily value may be higher than what's listed on label. If you eat less, your personal daily value may be lower. For a healthy heart, try to choose foods with a big difference between the total number of calories, the number of calories from fat. Saturated fat is part of the total fat in food. It is listed separately because it's the main cause of blood cholesterol. Salt is labeled as sodium, it may add up blood pressure in some people. So, keep your sodium intake low. Carbohydrates are in foods like bread, potatoes, fruits and vegetables. They give you energy. For the protein eat small servings of lean meat, fish and poultry. Use skim or low fat milk, yogurt and cheese. Take vegetable protein like beans, grains and cereals.
Food labels can guide you but not only food can make you healthy. You must take care of your weight, habits and environment.
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