Eating healthier now and in the future will be much easier with the new Nutrition Facts Label. The Food and Drug Administration mandated this new label, which first appeared on many food items in January 2020, though some products and manufacturers have until July 2021 to comply.
Understanding Nutrition Facts Label
According to the FDA’s article on understanding and using the nutrition facts label, nutritionists and registered dieticians find this skill critical for healthy eating. If you are just hearing about nutrition facts label, then, read why you should always read nutrition labels. Here are some significant changes with the new version.
A more realistic and visible serving size:
The serving size (in bold type) for most packaged foods has been increased to better reflect what people eat in a single sitting. Nutrition information must now be provided for the entire package for packages containing one to two servings. If the package contains two to three servings but can be consumed in one sitting, the label must include nutrition information for both one serving and the entire package.
Serving sizes are mandated by law to be based on the amount of food that people typically consume (more like a guide), but that doesn’t mean you should eat according to the serving size. Keep portions of less-than-healthy foods on the small side.
New vitamin and mineral amounts:
Vitamins A and C have been replaced on the label with vitamin D and potassium. This is because most people do not get enough of these. The label must also include the actual amount (in milligrams or micrograms) as well as a percentage of the “Daily Value.”
Scrutinize the ingredients list to gain a better understanding of where a food’s nutrients come from. If a vitamin or mineral is also listed, it indicates that it was added to the food. Nutrients naturally found in food are generally more beneficial than nutrients that are added in.
Information on added sugars:
The total sugars line includes both naturally occurring sugars in the food as well as those added during processing. For example, high-fructose corn syrup. The new line denotes the subset of added sugars, which should be limited to 50 grams per day or less on a 2,000-calorie diet.
Making it mandatory for food manufacturers to separate added sugars may encourage them to reduce the amount added. Manufacturers may use sugar substitutes such as sucralose or stevia, or sugar alcohols such as sorbitol or mannitol. So, if you notice a decrease in sugar in your favourite food, check the ingredients list to see what’s changed.
Calorie count that is bigger and bolder:
Have you noticed that the number of calories is larger? If you consume more calories than you need, your body will store the excess as fat. So, watch out for this detail.
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Adapted from: Consumer Reports’ article on The Washington Post