Reading food labels are important if you want to be assured of getting healthy foods into your body. Most people know about the calorie count when reading food labels, but there is a lot more information for you on these labels if you are able to understand what they mean.
All food labels are based on a 2,000 to 2500 calories a day diet. This is an assumption that the average daily diet is 2,000 to 2500 calories a day.
Knowing that our population is 66% overweight, and 33% of those are obese, helps us to understand that many people are not sticking to the 2000 to 2500 calorie a day diet that will help them to stay lean and healthy.
The average persons basal metabolism is approximately 1500 calories. Label makers assume that you will add another 500 calories of activity, and that is how they come up with 2000 calories. When 2500 calories is used, they assume that is for males. Unfortunately our basal metabolism varies with age, activity level, and male or female status. It would be difficult to lump everyone into the 1500 calorie a day basal metabolism and call it the norm. If you are overweight, non active, and or older, your basal metabolism could be much lower.
When you see a percentage of how much your daily values are such as sodium, fat, or fiber that is only correct if you are eating 2,000 calories a day.
You also need to note the serving size. If it says a 1 cup is a serving, and you have two cups, you need to double all the fact information on the label to apply to the amount that you ate. Usually serving sizes are very conservative, smaller than what many of us eat. So when it says 200 calories per serving, and you eat double the serving, you must double the calories that you are counting, along with all of the other info on the label.
If the fat percentage on a label reads more than 30 percent, it is not a healthy choice if you are trying to lose fat, especially if you are eating more than the serving size recommends.
If a label says "fat free" it has to by law have less than 0.5 grams per serving. If it says "low fat" it must comply with 3 grams of fat or less per serving. If it say "lean" it must have less than 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, and no more than 95 milligrams of cholesterol.
If the label says "light (lite)" it must have 1/3 or no more than half the fat of the higher calorie. higher fat version. Hopefully the higher version is not over the top with fat. When a label says "Cholesterol free", it must have less than 2 milligrams of cholesterol, or 2 grams or less of saturated fat per serving.
Your cholesterol intake should be under 300 milligrams in a day for a healthy diet. Your sodium intake should not go over 2400 milligrams in a day for optimum health results, and if you are over 50 they say it should be no more than 1400 milligrams per day.
When reading the ingredient list know that the ingredient that is listed first is what the product has the most of. For instance in many processed cereals the first ingredient might be bleached flour, the second ingredient might be sugar. That means that this cereal has mostly bleached flour, (non nutritious) and sugar (also non nutritious) in it. Not a good choice if you are trying to be healthy and lean.
If you are reading the ingredient list and find words that you do not know, or cannot pronounce, it is probably not a good choice to eat. Many processed foods have preservatives, chemicals, artificial flavors and colorings, that you just should not eat if you are looking for healthy choices.
Natures foods do not need any labels. Fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, fresh lean proteins, are assured to provide you with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, and amino acids that are pure of the negative health effects of processed foods.
Read your labels if you are eating processed foods to make sure that you are making healthy choices. You will find that many things that you have been eating, and thought were O.K., are simply not. Choose health by taking control of what you are eating. Educate yourself by reading the labels!