The 5 Most important things to look for on a Nutrition Label

How to Read a Nutrition Label

Packaged foods have become a staple in most households in today's fast-paced world. We buy packets of snacks such as Lays and Kurkure to granola bars and even breakfast foods such as idli batter. However, a closer look at their nutrition labels may leave you feeling dumbfounded.

Even if you opt for the so-called healthy granola bars, their nutritional labels may also reveal high amounts of sugar and unhealthy fats.

Reading nutritional labels can help you make informed decisions about what you eat and promote a healthier lifestyle. Here are the first 5 things you should look for on a nutrition label to ensure it is a healthy choice.

1. Total Calories and the Serving Size

Consider the calorie content in relation to your daily calorie needs and dietary goals, whether you are trying to maintain, lose, or gain weight.

It’s important to note that calories may be mentioned per 100 grams of the product or per serving. Serving size is the recommended portion for a single serving. Many people make the mistake of assuming that the entire package or container is a single serving size, but that is often not the case.

For instance, a large packet of Lay's Classic Potato Chips contains about 6 servings. One serving is about 15 chips with 160 calories and 10 grams of fat (1). Many of us munch through an entire packet while watching a show. You end up consuming 960 calories without even realizing it.

2. Total Sugars

The amount of sugar in a food product can be found on the nutritional label under the "Total Sugars" section. However, this value includes naturally occurring sugars (such as those found in fruit) and added sugars. 

To find out the amount of sugars in a food product, you should take a look at the ingredients list. High fructose corn syrup, dextrose, maltodextrin, etc. are unhealthy sugar additives (2). On the other hand, coconut sugar, date syrup, honey, etc are healthier and safe choices for sweetening a product.

High intake of added sugars can contribute to health issues like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease (3). Choose foods that are lower in added sugars to promote a healthy diet.

3. Macronutrients

Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are the macronutrients (4). They are the major nutrients that provide energy to the body and play a crucial role in your overall diet. Consider the quantity and quality of these nutrients based on your individual needs. 

To lose excess body fat you should eat balanced meals that offer you an optimum ratio of macros. Even if they are packaged, smart choices that focus on a good balance of all three macros are ideal for building a lean, toned figure. Being aware of the amount of macros you are consuming will also help ensure you take only as much as needed and not in excess.

Rather than buying protein shakes that contain just protein, sweeteners, and little else, choose something that offers you a good amount of healthy fats and carbs as well. Make sure the macros and sweetness come from natural ingredients such as almonds, dates, coconut oil, etc. 

4. Saturated Fats

When it comes to saturated fats, it is important to consider both the amount and the source of these fats in the product. High levels of saturated fat can increase the risk of heart disease. However, some sources of saturated fat are considered healthier than others. 

For example, coconut oil is a saturated fat source. However, coconut oil is rich in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are metabolized differently than other types of saturated fats. Researchers are still discovering the numerous health benefits of MCTs such as increasing feelings of fullness, boosting metabolism, and improving cognitive function (5).

Another type of fat you need to watch out for is - Trans fats! These are unhealthy fats that can increase your risk of heart disease (6). Check the nutrition label for the presence of trans fats. Make sure to choose foods that have zero trans fats or very low amounts of them.

5. Ingredient List

Other than sugars and fats, you should check the ingredient list on the nutrition label to see what else is used to make the product. This will help you identify allergens such as soy or dairy, the presence of artificial food colors or preservatives, etc. 

You can also identify any ingredients you are trying to avoid, such as animal products. Whenever you come across an ingredient you're not familiar with on the list, it's a good idea to do some research, as it could be harmful to your health.

Overall, the ingredient list helps you make informed choices about the food product and whether it aligns with your nutritional goals.


So next time you're in the grocery store, don't forget to check out those nutrition labels! 

Make sure to take a look at the ingredient list. It may seem tedious, but taking the time to find out the total calories, serving size, macronutrients, total sugar content, saturated and trans fats, etc. can really help you make healthier choices. and lead a better lifestyle

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