A healthier lifestyle often begins with a better understanding of the food that you’re eating on a daily basis. The Nutrition Facts Label that you can find on any packaged food in the United States is a great resource to truly understand what’s in your food. Next time you visit the supermarket, take a moment to scan the label on some of your favorites. On it you’ll find all of the pertinent information you’ll need to make a decision about whether or not that item belongs in your cart.
Whether you’re counting calories, avoiding saturated fats or looking to boost overall vitamin intake, the nutrition facts label is where you’ll get a clear insight into the makeup of a particular food product. In fact, there were some major changes made to the label throughout last year, which are the first revisions to it in more than 20 years. A number of the changes are based on new scientific research concerning nutrition and how it relates to health-conscious consumers.
Here is a rundown of the label’s new look and what it means for you.
Everything in moderation is typically a good philosophy when it comes to establishing a balanced diet. Previously, the Nutrition Facts label included information about recommended serving sizes in small font just below the total amount of servings per package. This often made it hard to truly discern how much of a product you should be eating. On the other hand, the previous serving sizes for most products were developed under a different ideology and were no longer an accurate reflection of how much an individual should be consuming of any given product. The revisions have made text of the servings size much larger in order to increase its visibility. The serving amounts themselves have also been adjusted to reflect new guidelines about daily diet and portioning.
Similarly to the serving size text, the calorie total text was also a bit smaller than the FDA had liked. The font size has seen an increase and has been updated in an attempt to be the first value a customer sees when scanning the label on any particular product. It is imperative to know the caloric content of what you’re eating in order to avoid overeating. The average amount of calories an individual should consume in any given day remains 2,000. However, this can vary based on the individual’s weight, age, height, physical activity level.
Percent Daily Value
The percent Daily Value (%DV) figures have been updated to 2020 standards as a result of new research. These values indicate how much a serving contributes to your total daily requirements of certain nutrients. Numbers of 20% or more are considered high, while 5% or less is considered a lower amount per food serving. This is important when looking at vitamins as well as cholesterol and sodium.
The changes made to this section of the label were the biggest alterations made. Americans’ dietary habits and nutritional awareness have changed over the years, making some of the information formerly contained in this section unnecessary. An example of this comes from the section previously known as “calories from fat.” Recent findings indicated that the number of calories coming from the total fats in any given product was not as vital to one’s diet as knowing how much saturated or trans-fat were in a particular product. Vitamins A and C were also removed from the label as many Americans typically consume enough of these and deficiencies are much rarer than when the label was originally created.
Additions to this section are added sugars, Vitamin D and potassium. The added sugars in a product are the sugars that are added during processing or packaging steps in their production process. Vitamin D and potassium make their appearances in this portion of the label due to many consumers being at risk of deficiency as a result of their diets.
Author bio: John Hinchey is VP of Sales for Westfalia Technologies, Inc., a leading provider of logistics solutions for plants, warehouses and distribution centers. He has more than 20 years of experience in manufacturing and warehouse automation.