Sarah Davis explains what you need to know to read food labels and understanding the nutrition facts panel.
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Sarah Davis: Hi, I am Sarah Davis with the Institute of Food Technologists and today we're talking about how to read food labels. Right now I will talk about how to read a Nutrition Facts Panel. Now the Nutrition Facts Panel lists mandatory components in it and these are Serving Size, the Number of Servings in this container, the Total Calories, Calories from Fat, Total Fat, Saturated Fat, Trans Fat, Cholesterol, Sodium, Total Carbohydrates, Dietary Fibers, Sugars, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron. So these are all listed on a Nutrition Facts Panel but you need to keep in mind that the Nutrition Facts listed are based on one serving size. So, whatever Serving Size is listed, in this case its one cup of cereal, that's what the Nutrition Facts are based on and this can be deceiving at times, such as a bag of chips, a small bag of chips or a soda. You might think that you can consume it all in one sitting and you probably can but listed on the label, it's meant to be two or more servings actually. Now Total Calories is a very important piece of the Nutrition Facts Panel. It's important because if our calories in don't balance with the calories out then that's when weight loss or weight gain occurs, based on where the imbalance is. If we are eating more than we are expending then we would gain weight. So it's important to keep an eye on calories. The Total Fat and some of these other Cholesterol, Sodium, Saturated Fat and Trans Fat, these nutrients, they can be helpful on a Nutrition Facts Panel for people with special health issues such as someone with coronary heart disease, they might choose to limit these nutrients in their diet. So they will pay particular attention to those nutrients to make sure that they are not consuming too much. Now, Total Fat, it's also good to keep in mind though that this isn't just those fats considered unhealthy like Trans Fat and Saturated Fats but Total Fat includes unsaturated fats, which can be Monounsaturated or Polyunsaturated and these come from fish, nuts and liquid vegetable oils and they are considered healthier. They actually might help prevent heart disease. So if you are buying a bread at the store, it's good if you are buying wheat bread or a multi-grain, but it's also very important to go back to the ingredient list and see what the first ingredient is. If you recall that's the ingredient that's used the most by weight and so this is a Honey Wheat Bread and the first ingredient is Enriched Wheat Flour, which is good but it's not a whole grain and whole grains are considered healthier carbohydrates. Dietary Fibers and Sugars also contribute to Total Carbohydrates. It's good to consume a diet that's high in Dietary Fiber, it can help you promote a regular bowel function but it's good to limit added sugars in your diet. Most Americans already consume a large amount of protein in their diet. So you would probably want to make lean protein choices when you are eating protein. Now the other nutrients Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron, most Americans don't consume enough of those beneficial nutrients. So it's good to choose products that are higher in those nutrients on the Nutrition Facts Panel and you might also notice that there are percentages listed beside each of these nutrients and that's the Percent Daily Value. Here at the bottom of the Nutrition Facts Panel you will see that the Percent Daily Value is based on a 2,000 or a 2,500 Calorie diet. While most Americans don't always consume a 2,000 or 2,500 calorie diet, the Percent Daily Value is still a helpful tool to help you gauge whether you are getting too much or too little of specific nutrients. A good rule of thumb is that 5% or less of a nutrient is considered low and 20% or more of a nutrient is considered high. There is a lot of other information that you can find on the Nutrition Facts Panel and to find that information you can go to www.cfsan.fda.gov. This is the Center for Food Safety & Applied Nutr
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