Nutrition Fact Labels
Reading the nutrition fact labels is the first place to start when trying to make healthy lifestyle changes. Learning how to properly read the label can help you decrease (or increase) calorie intake to reach your goal. On a food package you will find the Nutrition Fact Label. It is very easy to misread the label! Follow the steps below to help you properly read the label.
1. Look at the serving size ex: 8oz, 4oz, 1 cup
In this example, ½ cup is the serving size
2. What are the servings per container? This is where it is very easy to get tricked! For a 20 fluid oz soda, there are 2.5 servings per container. If each serving is 100 calories and you have the entire bottle, you will consume 250 calories.
In this example, there are 4 servings per container.
3. Calories. How many calories should you have per meal or as a snack? If you’re following a 2000 calorie diet without snacks daily, each meal should be ~660 calories.
In this example, there are 90 calories per serving
4. Fat. Low fat is defined as having less then 3 grams (g) of fat per serving. You can remember this because the word fat has 3 letters and something low in fat has 3 g of fat or less. Fat is broken down into saturated fat and unsaturated fat. Saturated fats are the “bad” fats and unsaturated fats are the “good” fats. Trans fats may also be on the label. Trans fats are the worst type of fat to consume. Companies can say there are zero g of trans fat if the product has less then 0.5 g per serving.
5. Cholesterol. If you have high cholesterol, aim for less than 300 mg of cholesterol per day. For a reference, one whole egg has 213 mg of cholesterol!! However, it is not necessarily the cholesterol in food that raises the cholesterol in your blood, it’s mostly the saturated fat you consume that raises your cholesterol.
6. Sodium. Sodium is an essential electrolyte for our body; however, most Americans exceed the recommendations of 2300 mg of sodium daily. Something considered low sodium has 140 mg per serving and a low sodium meal has less than 600 mg total.
7. Total Carbohydrates. If you have diabetes, this is a very important nutrient to read. You want 45-65% of your calories to come from carbohydrates! It is our primary source of energy. Below carbohydrates on the label, you will find sugar and dietary fiber. Low sugar is less than 5 g per serving. You should always try to eat foods high in fiber, aiming for more than 3 g of fiber per serving.
8. Protein. As a reference, 7 gm of protein is equal to 1 oz of meat.
9. Below protein you will find the percent daily value (DV) of vitamins/minerals. You want these percentages to be high. A percentage greater than 20% is considered a high amount.
10. Percent daily value (DV) next to each ingredient. A DV less then 5% is considered low (you want a low DV for saturated fat) and greater than 20% is considered high (you want a high DV for vitamins, minerals, and fiber). DV is a helpful tool when comparing 2 food items but it is important you also compare the serving sizes!
Vitamin K and Nutrition Fact Label
For those of you on anticoagulants, you’re probably asking, why isn’t vitamin K listed on every label? Unfortunately, vitamin K is not required to be listed on labels! This can be tricky as a product may contain vitamin K, but it’s not listed on the label. Your best option when determining the vitamin K content in different foods is to become familiar with those foods very high in vitamin K and avoid them! Please see the list below to assist you The %DV for vitamin K is 80 mcg. This means if a product is listed to have 100% DV for vitamin K, it contains 80 mcg of vitamin K.
|Food||Measure||Content Per Measure (mcg)|
|Cooked Kale||1 cup||1062.1|
|Cooked Spinach||1 cup||888.5|
|Cooked collards||1 cup||836|
|Beet greens||1 cup||697|
|Turnip Greens||1 cup||529.3|
|Mustard Greens||1 cup||419.3|
|Brussels Sprouts (cooked)||1 cup||218.9|
|Broccoli (cooked)||1 cup||220.1|
|Onions (Raw)||1 cup||207|
|Butterhead Lettuce||1 head||116.7|
|Spinach (raw)||1 cup||144.9|
|Sauerkraut (canned)||1 cup||135|
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