Nemours: How to Read a Nutrition Facts Label

Nemours: How to Read a Nutrition Facts Label

November 4, 2019 0 By William Morgan


[MUSIC PLAYING] Hi. I’m Mandy Layman, a
registered dietician with Nemours, a children’s
health organization. I’d like to talk to you about
something we see all the time, but we don’t always
pay attention to, nutrition facts labels. Come on, let’s go. Nutrition facts labels
are key to helping us know which foods to
choose and how much of them to eat or drink. Now, they can be a
little confusing, so we’re going to look
at one and discuss what all the words mean,
and the numbers mean, and how you can use them to
make healthier selections. Let’s take a look at a
nutrition facts label. It’s usually found on the side
or the back of the package. And the very, very first thing
you should always look at is the serving size. Everything listed
on the label is dependent on the serving size. So this is really important. If you change the serving of
the amount of food or drink, then you have to change all
the other numbers on the label. This label has one cup or
228 grams as a serving size. You would need to measure out
one cup using a measuring cup, or weigh out 228 grams
using a food scale. That means if you ate
the entire container, you would be eating two times
the amount listed below. You know, sometimes I talk to
families who get so excited and tell me, oh, I
went grocery shopping, and I bought all
whole grains, or I bought all fat free
or low carb foods. But keep in mind that doesn’t
always mean that it’s healthy or that you get
to eat more of it. That’s why you always
need to check the label and use measuring
cups, like these. Measuring cups are
wonderful and can really help with portion control. So let’s head home and
talk about calories. Calories are the
energy in our food. And we have to have a balance
of the calories that we eat, and the calories that we
burn, like through exercise. So if we eat more calories
than we burn, we gain weight. But if we burn more
calories than we eat, then we lose weight. Everyone has different
calorie needs depending on things like age,
activity level, and weight goals. Calories come from fat,
carbohydrates, and protein. Next to the calories
on the label, you’ll see calories from fat. The next item on the
label is total fat. Let’s take a look
at the breakdown of the different types of fat. Saturated fat and trans
fats are the bad fats. They can raise LDL,
or bad cholesterol in the body, which increases
the risk for heart disease. Saturated fats are often
found in high fat meats, high fat dairy products, and
a lot of prepackaged foods, such as frozen entrees, snack
foods, and chocolate candy. Trans fats are found in products
that contain hydrogenated oils, such as prepackaged foods
and some margarines. Now, fortunately, many
companies are finding ways to make their products
without trans fats these days. Sometimes you see
polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat
listed on the label. These are the good fats. They help maintain your HDL
or your good cholesterol in your body. And they’re found in olive
oil, canola oil, and most nuts and avocado. Even though these facts
are heart healthy, you still want to
limit the portion because they’re high calorie. Some of the cholesterol
we eat might affect the cholesterol in our body. But it’s important to limit
saturated fat and trans fat to help prevent high
cholesterol in our body. Let’s talk about sodium. Of course, a lot of
sodium is found in salt. The body only needs
about 2,400 milligrams a day of sodium, which is the
amount in one teaspoon of salt, which is the size of
about the tip of my thumb. But sodium can also be
found naturally in foods, and high amounts of
sodium are usually found in things like bacon,
soups, and snack foods. So keep in mind that even though
you may not use a lot of salt in your cooking, or add
salt at the dinner table, you may be getting
sodium from other places. Total carbohydrates,
carbs or carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap. But we’re learning more and
more that we should really take into account
the types of carbs. Underneath the total
carbs on the label it gives you a breakdown of
different types of carbs. Dietary fiber is
healthy and something we should get plenty of. It helps us still full so
we may end up eating less. It helps us go to the bathroom. And for diabetes, it
can help stabilize blood sugars a little bit. Fiber comes from
fruits and vegetables, like what you see up here. And also whole grains. Now, folks say to me, I’m eating
whole grains, and that’s great, but that doesn’t mean you should
eat a large bowl of wholegrain pasta in one sitting. Portion control is
still important. Sugar is another
type of carb, and it should be eaten in moderation. Whether it’s natural sugar or
added sugar, it’s still sugar. I get a lot of
questions about cereals. So just look for
six grams or less of sugar per serving
when it comes to cereals. Protein is a nutrient that helps
build our muscles, our skin, and our hair. Most meat eaters
find it very easy to get in their protein
needs for the day. Vegetarians have to include
plant-based protein, such as beans, to meet
their daily protein needs. Proteins help you
feel full, which is why it’s good to
include them with meals, like these nuts here. I love almonds. They’re a great snack. Below the black
line, you will find some of, but not always all
of, the vitamins and minerals in that product. At the very bottom
of the label is a footnote showing the
recommended dietary advice for all Americans. Along the right side of
the nutrition facts label, you will see a
list of percentages for each nutrient, which
shows the percent daily value. The percent daily
value is for someone following a 2,000 calorie diet. What it’s saying is if you were
to eat one cup of this product, you would be getting 18% of your
total fat needs for the day. But what if you’re not
on a 2,000 calorie diet? Here’s a quick guide for you. If the percentage is 5% or
less, it means it’s low. But if it’s 20% or more,
it means it’s high. And if it’s between
5% and 20%, then it means it’s in the middle. The nutrients that are good
to be low are in this section here, total fat, saturated
fat, trans fats, cholesterol, and sodium. You may notice there
is no percentage listed for the trans fat. But it’s recommended to
keep these as close to zero grams as possible. The nutrients you
want to be high are fiber and
vitamins and minerals. We want a moderate amount
of carbs with an emphasis on choosing carbs that come more
from fiber and less from sugar. Let’s practice using the
percentages on the label. For one cup of this product,
the total fat says 18%. Is that low, medium, or high? It’s medium because
it’s between 5% and 20%. But let’s say you decide to
eat two cups of this product. If you double the
serving size, you have to double all
the percentages. So now that total
fat becomes 36%. So is that low, medium, or high? High, because it’s 20% or more. I just want to remind you to
pull out your measuring cups and practice with them. Now that we’ve learned to read
the nutrition facts label, let’s use our knowledge
to compare products. [MUSIC PLAYING] Here we have 2% milk,
which is reduced fat milk, and fat free milk,
which is skim milk. If we look at the labels,
both serving sizes are the same, one cup. However, the 2% milk is
130 calories per serving, and the fat free milk is
90 calories per serving. So by choosing
the fat free milk, we’ll be saving 40
calories per serving. Let’s compare the
fat and cholesterol. The 2% milk’s daily value
is 8% for the total fat, 15% for the saturated fat,
and 7% for the cholesterol. Check out the fat free milk. The percent daily value is 0%
for the total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. Now, this is interesting. All the other nutrients are very
similar in each of the milks. You get all the good
nutrients in the fat free milk without the calories,
bad fat, and cholesterol. So now that you know how to
read a nutrition facts label, you have all the tools
you need for picking out healthy foods and
healthy portions. For more information on
individual daily calorie needs, visit choosemyplate.gov. You’ll also find great tools and
information at kidshealth.org, the most visited website for
children’s health information. Their Nutrition Center
has recipes, activities, and tons of great ideas. You’ll even find a
story about Brandon, a teenager who made
some simple choices that helped change his life. Thanks for watching. And stay healthy out there. [MUSIC PLAYING]