Understanding how to identify what is really contained in the foods we eat is very important. Often times it is best to stop and read the label before adding it to your cart. Whether it is an allergen, avoidance of a certain ingredient, taste preference or just curiosity, let's learn how to look at a label and truly understand what it means.
Start with the serving size. This well help you to gauge the amount of calories you are eating as well as the total nutrients you will receive from your food. Some packages are deceiving. For instance a small box which may look like a single serving may actually be one and half or even two servings.
Next look at the calories. Calories are essentially the amount of energy you get from a serving of food. Remember that the number of servings you consume determines the number of calories you actually eat. This section is important if you are trying to gain or lose weight or just manage your weight in general.
Daily Values - the percent is based on the DV for a nutrient in a 2000-calorie diet.
Nutrients without % DV on label: Protein, Sugar, and Trans Fat.
All nutrients must be declared as percentages of the Daily Values. That is to stop the mistaken interpretations of foods:
For instance sodium listed at 140 mg could be considered high, but when the DV is seen to be 6% of the DV of 24mg, the true amount in the food is better understood.
For those trying to avoid items like Dairy, Soy and Wheat it can be hard. Especially because of all the hidden names for these products.
Alternative names for dairy: milk, skim milk, cream evaporated milk, condensed milk, dried milk, butter, powdered milk, whey, lactose, caseinate, lactalbumin, cheese, curds, milk solids, yogurt, buttermilk, casein, lactate, sour cream, calcium caseinate
Alternative names for gluten: wheat, barley or rye, breading, bread stuffing, brewer's yeast, bulgur, durum, farro, graham flour, hydrolyzed wheat protein, kamut, malt, malt extract, malt syrup, malt flavoring, malt vinegar, malted milk, matzo, modified wheat starch, seitan (used in many vegetarian dishes), semolina, spelt, triticale, einkorn, emmer, farina, fu.
Alternative names for soy: soy protein, soy flour, soybean, soy lecithin, edamame (soybeans in pods), hydrolyzed soy protein, kinnoko flour, kyodofu (freeze dried tofu), miso, supro, tamari, tempeh, teriyaki sauce, tofu, yakidofu, yuba (bean curd).
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