Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month? Even though we’re wrapping up the month of March today, nutrition is important all year. One way to learn more about the foods we eat is by reviewing the Nutrition Facts labels on packaged food items.

Do you ever look at Nutrition Facts labels? I try to review them, especially for new food items that I haven’t bought before. I mostly look at the sugar content to make sure it’s not too high, but I also pay attention to sodium. 

Leave me a comment and let me know what you look for on Nutrition Facts labels!

Nutrition Facts Labels

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees the Nutrition Facts label. The agency most recently updated the labels in 2016 to reflect new scientific information. Visual changes to the labels also helped make certain information easier to read: the serving size and number of calories appear in larger, bolder font, and the daily values have been updated. 

The Nutrition Facts labels break down the amount of calories, carbs, fats, proteins, sugars, and vitamins per serving of the food. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends looking at different brands of the same food when comparing labels, because the nutritional information can vary between brands. 

Information on the labels includes:

  • Number of servings
  • Serving size
  • Calories per serving
  • Total fat, saturated fat and trans fat
  • Cholesterol
  • Sodium
  • Total carbohydrates, including dietary fiber, sugar, and added sugar
  • Protein
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Potassium

What Nutrition Facts Should You Care About?

The CDC recommends eating foods that are higher in fiber, vitamins and minerals. You should choose foods that have lower amounts of added sugars, saturated fats and sodium. 

Be sure to always check the serving size! The nutrient information and the percentage of daily values that each one provides is based on the serving size. If a packaged item has 10 servings but you eat the entire thing (which I’ve been known to do, especially with my favorite snacks!), then you’re really consuming 10 times the number of everything on the label. 

Panel Members and Nutrition Facts

Last month, we asked NCP panel members on Facebook and Instagram to tell us what information they look for on Nutrition Facts labels. 

Many of you responded, and it turns out that you look at all kinds of things on the labels. The majority of you look at the sugar and sodium content, but different nutrition information is important to different people. 

Existing health conditions are one reason you study the labels.  Patti says, “Sodium, sugar, and protein are very important in our household, especially due to hubby being diabetic.”  Knowing more about what you’re eating can also help prevent future health problems. Stacy says “I don’t have any illnesses yet but would like to keep it that way,” and goes on to say that sometimes looking at the calorie count will cause her to put an impulse item back on the shelf! 

Some of you also have food allergies, which means you need to pay attention to the ingredients listed on the labels. 

If you want to learn more about Nutrition Facts labels, the FDA has a guide to understanding and using the labels here

Reminders for Panel Members

Whether you look at Nutrition Facts labels or not, telling NCP about your purchases helps ensure you have a voice in the products on the shelves. Manufacturers and retailers rely on this information to make accurate marketing and product decisions based on what shoppers like you want to buy. 

And don’t forget, our Spin Into Spring interactive game is happening now! For each week that you submit a shopping trip, you’ll earn a game play for the following week. You can play in the NCPMobile app or on the panel member website and win prizes instantly! Learn more about Spin Into Spring here

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