All packaged foods come with a nutrition label meant to provide you with the information necessary to know exactly what you’re eating. Understanding what’s in the foods you eat helps you make healthier choices. Checking food labels also makes it easy for you to compare the nutrient content of different options. A healthy diet is crucial throughout your lifetime and paying attention to nutrition labels is a good step toward improving your health.
– Dr. Pooja, Senior Nutritionist @ eKincare.com
The principal display panel (front-side) of the food product can often be misleading; the real facts are to be found on the side/ back. The ingredient list and nutrition facts panel give us a true insight into its nutritional value and health benefits. Studies have shown that reading nutrition labels positively influence healthy eating behaviors and healthier dietary intake and may be associated with a lower prevalence of lifestyle diseases in adults.
PERCENT DAILY VALUES
It represents the percentage of daily nutrient requirement that a serving of the given food product fulfils based on a 2000 calorie diet. Calorie needs are determined by metabolic rate and the nature of physical activity. Today most of us indulge in minimal physical activity (owing to sedentary work desk jobs, commute using vehicles, etc) thereby leading to lower energy expenditure. Therefore, our daily requirements are much lower than 2000 calories.
Most of these caloric intake estimates are based on normal standards for Western population who have a different body composition, genetic make-up and lifestyle compared to Indians. So, largely these nutritional values may overestimate our daily calorie needs.
SMART CONSUMER TIP- HYPERTENSIVE
Sodium is the main culprit in increasing incidence of high blood pressure. Natural foods contain all minerals in balanced amounts but packaged foods contain large amounts of sodium because it increases the shelf-life and palatability of the food product. Sodium is required in very low quantities (2400mg/day = 1tsp salt). We get some amounts of sodium from the cereals, pulses and vegetables leaving about 3/4th tsp allowance as added salt. Salt is used for regular cooking in all meals and hence processed foods containing high amounts of sodium push our sodium intake to exorbitantly large quantities.
If a given product meets more than 15-20% of our daily sodium requirements then we must definitely avoid it or compensate by skipping salt in other meals.
In our next blog we explore some smart consumer tips for individuals with diabetes/ high blood sugar.