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
- Total carbohydrates, including dietary fiber, sugar, and added sugar
- Vitamin D
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.
Due to allergies – and a very conscientious wife – we check the labels on every new food purchased or gifted.
Over the decades there’s been no significant change in the FDA recommendations so we make adjustments for daily consumption need on the growing body of research for MDR.
Does the panel have any insight on when this information might be thoroughly up dated? The continued emphasis on fats over the dangers of sugars doesn’t seem beneficial, especially considering the detrimental issues with weight in our nation and culture.
Keep up the good work!
Hi James, thanks for your comment! Unfortunately, we do not have any insight about when FDA recommendations might be updated.
I wish they’d be clearer about whether the nutrition information on cans of condensed soups were accurate for the undiluted soup OR the soup after that can of water/milk has been added. Because my kidneys are beginning to weaken, I have to be very cautious about sodium content and when a can says 600-800 for sodium I have no idea whether it’s something I can eat or if I can’t because I don’t know whether it’s the “finished product” or the actual contents of the can.
Hi everybody Shanttale here ! First time checking out this blog ! Just finished reading the facts on nutrition labels . I’ve been diagnosed with diabetes and NOW I DO READ LABELS! it’s amazing how oblivious I was to what I was putting in my body ! Anywho thanks for all these fun facts … much appreciated! Later guys
I look at the nutrition label and don’t really understand it so I buy what I hope is healthy but not always sure I am right. A lot of those can be very confusing.
I rarely, I mean very rarely, look at nutrition labels. I do check out the list of ingredients on some things. I’m specifically looking for msg’s and will decide against buying something if it’s pretty high on the list. I have found that I get a headache if I eat too much of it. I still get tricked occasionally when it is listed as something I don’t recognize as msg.