How to read nutritional information in food packaging
3 mins to read
Being able to read nutrition labels will help us understand what is in the foods and beverages we consume daily.
In many countries, packaged foods and drinks come in cans, boxes, bottles, jars, and bags and they include nutrition and ingredient information on their labels.
However, sometimes these labels can be misleading and difficult to decipher.
If you are interested to learn about the types of information that may be printed on food and beverage packaging, we have some tips for how to best interpret the nutrition information panel.
1) Understanding the product dates on food labels
There are three types of product dates commonly printed on packaged foods and beverages:
a) “Sell by” (Product cannot be sold after this date has passed)
This indicates how long the manufacturer suggests that a store should sell items such as meat, poultry, eggs, or milk products.
b) “Use by” (Product will be at its best quality within this timeframe)
If you buy or use the product after that date, some might be stale or less tasty.
c) “Best before” (Product is best used before this date)
This tells us how long the item will have the best flavor or quality.
d) “Product expiry” (Product will expire by)
This food label is not often seen but this indicates that the product will expire by this date and is no longer safe to consume.
However, product dates are not required by federal regulations and are added voluntarily by manufacturers.
2) How to read the Nutrition Facts label
It is common to find the total number of servings in the container and the food or beverage’s serving size at the top of the nutrition label at the back of the product.
The serving size on the label is based on the amount of food that people may typically eat at one time and is not a recommendation of how much to eat.
If you eat an entire package of food that contains two servings, you will get twice as many calories, nutrients, sugar, and fat as are in one serving.
For example, the Imperium Ultimate Cleanse Meal Replacement is formulated with whole-food nutrition, patented and potent ingredients of more than 55 highly absorbable and functional ingredients and essential nutrients.
It is packed with fiber and protein, to support detoxification, cellular repair, and cellular rejuvenation.
You will find a list of ingredients on the package such as 26 types of superfoods that provides essential polyphenols, vitamins, minerals, and super-antioxidant to the body.
3) Understanding percent Daily Value (% DV)
The percent Daily Value (% DV) tells how much a nutrient in a serving of the food or beverage contributes to a total daily 2,000-calorie diet.
If you are eating fewer calories per day and eat one serving, your % DV will be higher than what you see on the label.
Some nutrients on the Nutrition Facts label do not have a % DV, but consumers can still use the number of grams to compare and choose products.
As most older adults exceed the recommended limits for saturated fats, sodium, and added sugars, you can compare and choose foods to get less than 100% DV of these each day, making sure to adjust for how many calories are in your diet.
Additionally, many older adults do not get the recommended amounts of dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium, and potassium.
Therefore, the Imperium Ultimate Youth and Vitality is an exceedingly popular anti-aging supplement and is touted as the next fountain of youth.
This formulation has been devised through extensive research and development in collaboration with our partners in Japan to implement high-efficiency biological enzymatic hydrolysis.
It comes with many health benefits such as skin hydration and an energy booster and is one of the best immunity booster that Singapore has to offer.
It is important to eat enough foods that contain important nutrients to reduce the risk of developing some diseases and conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure.
However, is a lower % DV always healthier?
If a food has 5% DV or less of a nutrient per serving, it is considered low in that nutrient.
If it has 20% DV or more of a nutrient per serving, it is considered high in that nutrient.
Low or high can be either good or bad as it all depends on whether you need more of a nutrient (like dietary fiber) or less (like saturated fat).
4) How to read the ingredient list
The ingredients in packaged food and beverage items are listed separately from the Nutrition Facts label.
This information lists each ingredient in the product by its common or usual name, and in descending order by weight.
The ingredient that weighs the most is listed first, and the ingredient that weighs the least is listed last.
To stay on a healthy diet, you should be on the lookout for terms that indicate added sugar, such as brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, and high-fructose corn syrup.
Artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, saccharin, aspartame, and acesulfame should also be consumed in moderation.
Sometimes, food and beverage packaging include terms that may try to convince the consumer the food is healthy.
This includes terms such as “light,” “low,” “reduced,” “free,” and other terms.
This type of labeling may have little to do with how nutritious the food is.
Here are some examples and what they mean:
Light products are processed to reduce either calories or fat.
This may sound healthy, but some “light” products are simply watered down.
You should check carefully to see if anything has been added to make up for the reduced calories and fat, such as sugar.
b) Low-fat, low-calorie, low-carb.
These foods have a legal limit to how many calories, grams of fat, or carbohydrates (carbs) they can contain per serving.
However, if a serving size is very small, you may end up eating multiple servings in one sitting, ultimately consuming the same amount of fat, calories, and carbs as the regular version of the food.
This sounds healthy but only means that a product contains more than one type of grain.
Unless the product is marked as whole grain, it is possible the grains are all refined grains, which have likely lost important nutrients during processing.
Products declared organic must be produced without conventional pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, biotechnology, or ionizing radiation.
Organic animals must be fed organic feed and not be injected with hormones or antibiotics.
Remember, organic foods may still have the same number of calories, fats, proteins, and carbs as nonorganic food.