Learn to read food labels

Learn to read food labels

The information on the container allows us to know in more detail the nutritional characteristics of each food. Here, a guide to understand each of the data.

A healthy diet is the basis of our health, eating healthy prevents diseases and contributes to a good state of health. But to eat healthy we have to know what foods to choose, said Nutrition Graduate Aldana Antinone in a talk on how to read food labels at the clinic, Los Arcos.

At present we see that the industry exerts strong pressure on the food we consume, they usually carry out high-impact advertisements and campaigns directed mostly to children and adolescents, highlighting nutritional properties of foods that sometimes they do not have.

Therefore, if we know what components and what values ​​we should look at when buying a product, it will be much easier for us not to be influenced by this type of advertising pressure and thus be able to make a healthy and optimal purchase.

So it is important that the consumer learns to read, understand and interpret the different food labels in order to make a safe purchase. Then they can quickly compare similar foods and choose the one that is healthier.

Since August 1, 2016, a new regulation of the Food Code governs that requires all packaged products to contain detailed nutritional information in a similar way so that any consumer can read and understand it.

What is a label?

It is any inscription, legend, image that has been printed attached to the food container, intended to inform the consumer about the characteristics of food, its way of preparation, handling and conservation, its content and its nutritional properties.

The ingredients: are substances, including food additives, that are used to manufacture food, and that will be in the final product, in its original or modified form.

Nutrients: substance present in food that is essential for growth, development and maintenance of health and is divided into:

Macro nutrients: they are needed in large quantities per day. (carbohydrates, proteins and fats)

Micro nutrients: they are needed in small amounts per day (vitamins and minerals, water,. They are those that allow a good use of the macro nutrients.

Food Additives: they are intentionally added to modify the characteristics of the food (preservatives, colorings, antioxidants, thickeners). only those authorized by the current food code are added. The amount has to be the minimum amount to achieve the desired effect. They are found in the Ingredients list and are listed with the function it fulfills (improver, thickener, colorant, etc.) and the name of the additive.

Where to start reading a label?

Read the net weight and portion size first. Then check the list of nutrients. In the column of percentages of daily requirement (% DV) you can see if the food is high in nutrients or not. If you want to limit a nutrient, look for foods that contain a low value for that nutrient and vice versa.

A food is low in a nutrient when it is less than 5% and is high when it is more than 20%. Now we have to know in which nutrient it is convenient for me to choose it high or low (sodium is bad, choose low, fiber, it is good, high).

What is nutritional information?

It is any description intended to inform the consumer about the nutritional properties of a food. Understands:

Nutrient declaration: It is the standardized enumeration of the energy value and the nutrient content of a food.

Nutritional or supplemental nutritional information: It is any representation that implies that a product has particular nutritional properties, for example without sugar, without cholesterol.

Portion: It is the average amount of food that should be consumed by healthy people, older than 3 years of age, on each consumption occasion.

What is the energy value?

The energy value provides a measure of the amount of energy provided by a portion of the food. It is calculated from the sum of the energy provided by carbohydrates, proteins, fats and alcohols. They are expressed in calories.

So with this calculation we obtain the energy that a portion of a food gives us. That a food does not provide fat does not mean that it does not have calories, because carbohydrates and proteins also have calories.

Nutrient lists: Which ones must be declared mandatory? In addition to the total energy value of the food, it will be mandatory to quantitatively declare the energy value content of each of the following nutrients and the DV percentage of each nutrient that covers the portion of the food:

? Carbohydrates (g) ;? Proteins (g) ;? Total fat (g) ;? Saturated fat (g) ;? Trans fat (g) ;? Dietary fiber (g) ;? Sodium (mg).

How should nutritional information be expressed?

It must be expressed per portion, including the corresponding homemade measure, (one tablespoon, tea spoon, glass, shallow plate, and as a percentage of Daily Value (% DV).

Nutrient function

Carbohydrates: Energetic, fuel for the body. 50 or 60 of foods rich in carbohydrates ... do not have to eliminate them. Cereals, flours and derivatives, sweet potato corn, legumes, rice, pasta, sugar, honey, sugary drinks. Choose complex hydrates: whole. They are absorbed slowly, better for the metabolism .. moderate simple sugars, sugar, honey, favor the deposit of fat.

Proteins: They are necessary for the growth of muscles, hair, nails, and represent 15% of the daily caloric value. They are divided into Animals (meats, dairy eggs) and vegetables (legumes, whole grains)

Fats: They represent 30% of the daily caloric value.

Unsaturated: They are good for health (olives, dried fruits, oils, fatty sea fish)

Saturated, cholesterol: They are bad for your health (whole dairy products, butter, cream, cold cuts, fatty cuts of meat, snacks. Trans fats are the worst, you have to avoid them, because they are deposited in the arteries.

Dietary fiber: helps regulate intestinal transit and balance blood glucose levels, (whole grains, fruits and vegetables, legumes, seeds, dried fruits) 25% grams per day is recommended (two servings of vegetables, three fruits, 1 or 2 slices of bread integral)

Sodium: present in many foods, even sweet foods. It is recommended to limit its consumption, to avoid hypertension.

Vitamins and minerals, It is not an obligation that they are declared in common food. Yes in special preparations, such as formula milk.

Claims: It is the Complementary Nutritional Information or declaration of nutritional properties. It is any expression and / or representation that affirms, suggests or implies that a food has particular nutritional properties, in relation to its energy value and its content of proteins, fats, carbohydrates and dietary fiber, and also its content of vitamins and minerals. .net

By Gabriela Suárez Lyfestyle

Video: How to read food labels? (July 2021).