How familiar are you with the Nutrition Facts label? It is found on the back of packaged foods you buy. You may use it in some way already. Maybe you check for fat content, calories, or to see how much sodium is in a product. The more familiar you become with the nutrition facts label, the more you’ll want to use it to make sure you know what you are getting and to ensure that you are purchasing healthy foods as part of a balanced diet. The FDA provides a great brochure on Nutrition Facts labels. You can find and download it by clicking here. Look at the example food labels from below. Which product would you deem more healthy – The one on the left or the one on the right? Both of these labels come from milk. The label on the left shows more calories and fat than the label on the right. Both products have the same amount of calcium. If getting enough calcium in your diet is one of your health goals, then either option would be a good choice. However, if you are trying to watch the amount of fat in your diet, as well as getting enough calcium, the product on the right is the better choice. The label on the left comes from a gallon of 2% milk while the label on the right comes from skim milk. Skim milk is a better choice when it comes to limiting fat content. Using the Nutrition Facts label in this way becomes a great tool when comparing products and making choices based on your health goals. The diagram below walks you through all the different parts of the food label and what each section’s purpose is. Not only will it help you monitor the amount of calories and fat in your diet, it will help you make sure you are getting enough vital nutrients in your diet like Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and potassium. Just as important as reading and understanding the information on the Nutrtion Fact label is looking at the list of ingredients in a product. Many times the pretty packaging and nutrition claims found on the front of a food product misleads us. If we take a minute to read the ingredients list we know what we are actually getting. A great example is when buying bread. Just because a loaf of bread is brown does not necessarily mean it is wheat bread. In fact, just because a package of bread says “wheat” on the front doesn’t ensure it’s actually 100% whole wheat. The only way to be sure you are getting 100% wheat bread is to look at the list of ingredients. The first ingredient should be whole wheat flour. Words like refined, processed, or enriched mean that the bread doesn’t contain all whole wheat flour, thus it isn’t 100% whole wheat bread. To dig a little deeper and find out more information about Nutrition Facts labels visit the FDA’s website by clicking here. Give Slow Cooker Fettuccine Alfredo a try this week. When shopping for ingredients, compare two different milk products and choose the one with the least amount of saturated fat. When choosing your pasta check the ingredient list and opt for a pasta containing whole wheat flour to add some whole grains to your meal. Enjoy!
Click on the recipe card for a printable version.