Learning how to read a food label can be a helpful tool, especially for college women. When you buy convenience food on the go, which can be high in sugar, fat, and sodium, you can use your food label knowledge to make healthier choices. The healthy choices you make today will add up over time and positively impact your health.
So what does research have to say?
- Label users diets are lower in cholesterol and fat and higher in vegetables and fruit.1
- Label users have a positive outlook and more nutrition knowledge of the relationship between diet and disease.1
- College women used food labels more then men but they did not always use their food label knowledge to benefit their health.
Navigating the Internet full of contradictory heath information can be overwhelming. To lessen your confusion there is a list of key points (from reliable sources!) to help familiarize you with the back of a food label. When you know what is in your food, the questions to ask, and how to lead a healthy lifestyle you will gain confidence. Your newfound confidence will help you take control of your health and make healthier food choices. Are you ready to learn the basics of reading food labels? If so, let’s get started!
1. Serving size2
- Servings per Container (i.e. 8 cups) will list the amount of servings in the package
- Serving Size is the amount per 1 serving (i.e. 2 cups, 1 teaspoon, 2 tbsp.
- Calories is the amount per 1 serving
3. Percent (%) Daily Value2,3
- On the right hand side of a label you will see the % Daily Value (DV), which is the percent of each nutrient (i.e., vitamin A, carbohydrates) in a single serving.
- % DV also adds to your daily diet total.
- Keep in mind that extra amounts of salt, sugar, and saturated fat can be harmful to your health.
- 5% DV is low and 20% DV or more is high.
- 20% DV or more is good from a nutrient like fiber but not from saturated fat, salt, or sugar.
4. Ingredients and Sugar3,4
- On the bottom of a food label you will see an ingredient list.
- Names of sugars end in –OSE.
- Other names for sugar are sucrose, syrup, brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, sucralose, fruit juice concentrates, high fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, maltose, lactose, malt syrup, raw sugar, and molasses.
- It’s recommended women have no more then 25g of sugar daily (however less is better!)
- Misra R, PhD. Knowledge, Attitudes, and Label Use among College Students. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2007;107:2130-2134
- Using the Nutrients Facts Label: A how to guide for older adults. U.S. Food and Drug Administration Website. https://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm267499.htm. Accessed April 5, 2018.
- Fats, Added Sugars, and Salts. Department of Health and Human Services Website. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/healthieryou/html/chapter8.html. Accessed April 4, 2018.
- Added Sugars. American Heart Association Website. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Added-Sugars_UCM_305858_Article.jsp. April 6, 2018.