Reading a food label

Dancehawk
By Dancehawk Latest Reply 2008-05-30 14:03:05 -0500
Started 2008-05-29 07:05:28 -0500

Hey guys found this and wanted to share.

Reading a food label
If you aren't in the habit of reading food labels, try it. You will be surprised to see how much great information appears on this small government-mandated label. Federal law requires all packaged foods to bear a label stating the ingredients, the serving size, calories, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, total carbohydrates, protein, cholesterol, sodium, and daily values of certain nutrients, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. You can use this food label in many ways. For example, you can find out whether a loaf of bread is genuine whole wheat by checking whether the first item in the ingredients list is "whole-wheat flour." Using the nutrients list, you can compare the amount of fiber among different brands of cereals, or you can see whether your bread is fortified with folic acid or your orange juice is fortified with calcium. If you see that there are 12 grams of fat and that 10 of them are saturated or trans fats you'll know it's not a healthy choice for lowering your risk for heart disease, diabetes, or hypertension. The phrase "partially hydrogenated oil" in the list of ingredients is another way of saying trans fats

hope it helps.
Dancehawk


8 replies

kdroberts
kdroberts 2008-05-29 08:10:43 -0500 Report

Nutrition labels are good, but in the US they are too lenient. Fat free doesn't mean fat free, 0g carb may not mean 0g carb, the serving size for the info is not mandated and then there is the whole fiber as a carb issue. Manufacturers are able to get away with too many things when it come to rounding. I am eating an example right now. Peanuts. Per serving 14g fat of which saturated 2.5g, polyunsaturated 4g, monounsaturated 6g and trans 0g. Does 4+6+2.5+0 = 14? They also need to measure carbs properly as well as mandate an actual weight that the nutrition is based on. Eg like they do in the UK where every nutritional label must be per 100g. A serving can be included as well but the 100g must be there is there is a label. It makes it very easy to compare products that way and the manufacturers can't play games like having good looking nutritional info but when you look at it the serving size is tiny. Just my 2c.

tmana
tmana 2008-05-29 13:48:18 -0500 Report

Umm… the 100g thing really throws me if I am looking at something for which the average serving is something like 13g, or on the other end, 343g. Really makes things look out of proportion at the store. And the breakdowns are not the same, either — I can't find half the nutrients that are listed on the US labels or the USDA database.

What ***goads*** me (from a Public Health perspective) is when the serving size says "1 cup (56g)" on the package, and 56g barely fills two thirds of my standard one-cup measure. *I* have a digital scale to compare with. The *average* US household still uses volume-based measurements. When the volume-based serving understates the weight by a third or more, *someone* is overeating considerably!

Dancehawk
Dancehawk 2008-05-29 07:14:45 -0500 Report

What About Carbohydrates? Print Email

Carbohydrates encompass a broad range of foods, including table sugar, fruits and vegetables, and grains such as rice and wheat. The DRI for carbohydrates is 45–65 percent of your daily calories. But, as the Healthy Eating Pyramid shows, most of these carbohydrates should come from whole-grain foods, vegetables, and fruits.

If most of the carbohydrates you eat are bad carbohydrates (white bread, white potatoes, white rice, and other refined starches and sugars at the top of the Healthy Eating Pyramid), you could end up gaining weight and putting yourself at risk for disease.

A 2002 report in the Journal of the American Medical Association cited several dozen studies that have found that people who eat a lot of starchy foods are at higher risk for obesity, heart disease, and diabetes compared with people who eat such foods in moderation. Next, a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 2002 found that women who were overweight and sedentary and who ate a lot of starchy foods were two and a half times as likely as other women to get pancreatic cancer.

The list of bad carbohydrates may come as a surprise. Why are potatoes bad for you? They're vegetables, after all. Why are they in the same category as sweets? To answer these questions, you have to consider the glycemic load, a measure of how quickly a serving of food is converted to blood sugar during digestion and how high the spike in blood sugar is. In general, the good carbohydrates have a lower glycemic load than the bad carbohydrates. The glycemic load of your diet can significantly affect your risk for diabetes, heart disease, and possibly obesity.

From the Harvard Health Publications Special Health Report, Healthy Eating: A Guide to the New Nutrition. Copyright 2006 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Illustrations by Christopher Bing, Lynn Jeffery, and Doug McGredy. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

Use of Content | Disclaimer | Last Full Review February 2006

John Crowley
John CrowleyCA 2008-05-29 16:54:27 -0500 Report

I've been trying to learn about glycemic load. It sure makes a lot of sense to try to avoid those super refined and quickly processed carbs. I wish our younger kids didn't complain so much about the whole grain stuff :-) if you know what I mean.

Thanks for posting this great information.

Dancehawk
Dancehawk 2008-05-29 07:06:32 -0500 Report

Fats in Some Common Foods Print Email
Product Common serving size Total fat (g) Sat. fat (g) % DV+ for sat. fat Trans fat (g) Combined sat. & trans fat (g) Chol. (mg) % DV+ for chol.
French fried potatoes± (fast food) Medium (147 g) 27 7 35% 8 15 0 0%
Butter** 1 tbsp 11 7 35% 0 7 30 10%
Margarine, stick† 1 tbsp 11 2 10% 3 5 0 0%
Margarine, tub† 1 tbsp 7 1 5% 0.5 1.5 0 0%
Mayonnaise†† (soybean oil) 1 tbsp 11 1.5 8% 0 1.5 5 2%
Shortening± 1 tbsp 13 3.5 18% 4 7.5 0 0%
Potato chips± Small bag (42.5 g) 11 2 10% 3 5 0 0%
Milk, whole± 1 cup 7 4.5 23% 0 4.5 35 12%
Milk, skim† 1 cup 0 0 0% 0 0 5 2%
Doughnut± 1 18 4.5 23% 5 9.5 25 8%
Cookies± (cream-filled) 3 (30 g) 6 1 5% 2 3 0 0%
Candy bar± 1 (40 g) 10 4 20% 3 7 s nutrition labeling regulations.
**Butter values from FDA Table of Trans Values, 1/30/95.
+Daily Value.
†Values derived from 2002 USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 15.
††Prerelease values derived from 2003 USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 16.
±1995 USDA Composition Data.
Adapted from FDA Consumer

Dancehawk
Dancehawk 2008-05-29 07:13:54 -0500 Report

The Skinny on Fat Print Email
So why, after all these years of telling people to reduce dietary fat, are experts saying to eat more fat? It turns out that this idea has been in the works for decades, notably at the Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health, where leading nutrition researchers were turning up evidence that the key to heart health was the type, not the total amount, of fat. This concept was supported in 2006 by the Women's Health Initiative, a study of about 49,000 women showing that a low-fat diet did not significantly reduce the women's risk of heart disease, breast cancer, or colon cancer.

The body needs fat. It's a major energy source and also helps you absorb certain vitamins and nutrients. Only some fats are bad for you: saturated fats (found mainly in meat, butter, whole milk, and cheese) and trans fatty acids, or trans fats (which come mostly from the partially hydrogenated oils used in restaurant fryers, many margarines, and packaged snacks and baked goods, and in lesser amounts from dairy products and meats). These bad fats boost your chances of developing heart disease by increasing two of its main risk factors: LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

Unsaturated fats — which come from fish and such plant sources as vegetable oils, nuts, and whole grains — are good for you. There are two types of unsaturated fats: polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. These good fats can help lower LDL, prevent abnormal heart rhythms, and prevent heart disease.

The dietary reference intakes (DRI) for fat gives considerable leeway: 20–35 percent of your daily calories can come from fat. This means you can get up to 35 percent of your calories from fat and still have a diet that's good for your heart, helps reduce your risk of hypertension, and lets you maintain your weight or even lose weight. Even more may be fine, so long as it's mostly healthy fats from fish and vegetables. Unfortunately for lovers of red meat, butter, and cheese, these foods should be avoided or limited to occasional treats. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend no more than 10 percent of total daily calories from saturated fats and as little as possible from trans fats.

A low-fat diet is no guarantee of good health. In fact, a diet with only 20 percent of calories from fat can be virtually a junk-food diet if you make up for the lost fat calories with sugary foods such as soft drinks, nonfat cookies, and high-starch carbohydrates such as white bread and potatoes. An overabundance of these foods increases the risk for heart disease and diabetes (see What About Carbohydrates?).

What's the difference between a good fat and a bad fat? All fats have a similar chemical structure: a chain of carbon atoms bonded to hydrogen atoms. What differs is the length and shape of their carbon chains and the number of hydrogen atoms. Seemingly slight differences in structure translate into crucial differences in the body.

From the Harvard Health Publications Special Health Report, Healthy Eating: A Guide to the New Nutrition. Copyright 2006 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Illustrations by Christopher Bing, Lynn Jeffery, and Doug McGredy. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

Use of Content | Disclaimer | Last Full Review February 2006

Next Discussion: Can anyone review Byetta? »