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How to Read a Food Label

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How to Read a Food Label

Empower yourself by understanding nutrition and ingredient labels with a few simple tips and explanations. You don’t have to be a nutritionist (or a detective) to identity good quality food and feel better because of your choices.

NUTRITION FACT LABEL (NFL)

In 2016, the FDA published final rules on modified the format of the Nutrition Facts label to make it easier for people to make better informed food choices, based on new scientific information. You’ll see these label updates on your favorite Vega® products.

Daily values for nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber and vitamin D are being updated based on newer scientific evidence from the Institute of Medicine and other reports such as the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report, which was used in developing the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

For more information, please see: https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm385663.htm

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE NFL?

Servings

Serving size and servings per container are both good to look at. Serving size helps with portion control (especially if there is more than one serving per container), but serving size is up to the discretion of the manufacturer. It’s up to you to determine if it’s an appropriate serving size for your needs.

% Daily Value (DV)

Indicates how much a given food contributes towards your recommended daily intake based on the Food and Drug Administration Guidelines. This is based on an average consumption of 2000 calories, suitable for a moderately active female roughly 130-140 lbs.

Keep in mind, that average weight for a female in North America is 164 lbs and 191 lbs for men1, so these % daily values may not reflect your needs and is more so a general guideline.

Carbohydrates, Sugar, Dietary Fiber

Dietary fiber is important because helps support the digestive system. Foods considered to be a good source of fiber contain 10% DV or more.  You will see total carbohydrates, total sugar (including added sugar) and dietary fiber all listed on pack of your favorite foods so you can be aware of the amount of each.

Protein

High protein foods contain 20% or more of your recommended daily intake.

 

While the Nutrition Facts Label may provide valuable information for selecting a food based on some personal needs, it’s not actually a reflection of the food’s overall quality. That is better determined by the Ingredients List.

 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE INGREDIENT LIST

When reading an ingredient list, keep these things in mind.

The Fewer Ingredients– The Better (But Not Always!)

Often this will mean fewer food additives, but this isn’t always the rule. Choosing ingredients that are real is most important. That means whole foods, or ingredients based from whole foods (minimally processed). Usually this means foods you can recognize based on name alone.

Stick to What You Can Pronounce—Most of the Time

You may also notice a few words that look unpronounceable, unusual, or unfamiliar. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are bad. Gums like xanthan and guar gum for example are used to keep a protein shake from settling at the bottom of your shaker. They’re natural, plant-based polysaccharides (a type of carbohydrate), derived through a fermentation process.

 

Beyond the Nutrition Fact Label and Ingredients List, you may want to also evaluate a food based on call outs showing what’s not in a food. Such as “made without___[dairy, gluten, soy]” or “contains no___ [artificial ingredients].”

Food manufacturers will often use these call-outs to help save their customers time in product selection, as it makes it easy to identify if a product meets their dietary criteria. This is a marketing element (not required), so not every company will integrate this. When in doubt – still read your ingredients list if there’s an ingredient you’re looking to avoid. And if you’re unsure, we recommend speaking to a health care practitioner, registered dietician or nutritionist for further support and guidance.

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