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America’s Healthy
Cooking Teacher

Label.ology: Reading and Understanding Calories, Fat, Protein, Sodium…

How to Read a Label
Lesson 2

The next part of the label includes information concerning fat content and type, amount and type of carbohydrates, protein, sodium, fiber, and sugar. It’s important to note that the FDA now requires the amount of trans fats in products be listed, which is great news. They will be listed with fats and cholesterol amounts.

Each nutrient will be shown in grams or milligrams and you’ll also see the percentage of the recommended daily amount that you’re getting.

This can be a bit misleading because these percentages are based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet.  While it gives you an idea of how the food in question can fit into your daily needs, the calculation is based on more calories than most of us need. Remember that to maintain current weight, women require between 1600-1800 calories daily (2000 if a woman is extremely active and at the lower end of this spectrum over the age of 50). Men require 2000-2600 calories daily to maintain their current weight (up to 3000 if extremely active and again, at the lower end of the spectrum once they reach the age of 50).

It’s easy to see that calories are not the only place where we can get into trouble because of tweaked amounts of ingredients. Taking in more protein, fat and carbohydrates than we need results in weight gain, so it’s important to look at these numbers, compare them to your caloric intake and adjust your food intake accordingly to maintain wellness.

Next up? Ingredients, ingredients, ingredients!